Kolkata, April 28 (IANS) West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress on Friday termed as a “BJP conspiracy” the Enforcement Directorate’s registration of a money laundering case against some of its leaders over their alleged involvement in the Narada sting.
“We are saying from the outset that it’s a conspiracy,” said Trinamool Secretary General and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee.
Assailing the Bharatiya Janata Party for its “vindictive politics”, he hit out at it for not having faith in the people’s mandate and the democratic process.
On the other hand, BJP leader and union Minister Babul Supriyo said instead of trying to run down central agencies like the ED, the Trinamool leaders booked in the Narada case should fight it out in the court if they feel they are being wronged.
“If ED starts arresting without evidence, it will only throw mud at itself. Let them (The Trinamool leaders) fight it out in court.”
The ED earlier in the day started a case against the Trinamool leaders under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on the basis of the case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The ED move comes 10 days after the CBI filed an FIR against a dozen senior leaders of West Bengal’s ruling party and an IPS officer in the Narada case.
The controversy erupted in West Bengal in March last year when Narada News portal uploaded a series of video footage purportedly showing a number of senior Trinamool leaders, including former and present ministers, MPs and state lawmakers, receiving money in exchange of favours to a fictitious company.
Supriyo said all parties accepted subscriptions for running their organisation.
“But there is a difference between those who extort or terrorise people to grab money and those who collect subscriptions in the normal way as we see during Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja celebrations.”
The list of those named in the CBI FIR includes all 13 persons who were purportedly seen receiving money in the Narada sting operation footage.
Among those whose names figure in the FIR are Trinamool Vice President and Rajya Sabha member Mukul Roy, Lok Sabha members Sougata Roy, Sultan Ahmed, Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee, state ministers Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, and Sovan Chatterjee, who is also the Kolkata Mayor, and former minister Madan Mitra.
On March 17, the Calcutta High Court ordered a preliminary inquiry by the CBI into the case and asked the federal investigation agency to submit the report within 72 hours.
According to an ED official, all Trinamool leaders against whom case has been registered, would be summoned soon for questioning.