New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) The sting operation in West Bengal has in more ways than one caught Trinamool Congress on the wrong foot as party leaders are in “two minds” about taking legal course against the news portal that carried out the purported sting operation.
The sting showed some party leaders receiving money as bribe.
After posturing initially that the video footage in circulation showing party leaders and sitting MPs receiving currency notes as “manufactured”, a section of leaders has briefed party supremo Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata that to “prove the charges as malicious and motivated in a court of law will be a herculean task”.
“A section of party leaders are in two minds. There is a growing sentiment that the legal course can only add to the agony of the party,” a Trinamool Congress leader told IANS here requesting anonymity.
“Things may turn difficult once court takes cognizance of the charges and order either a judicial probe or an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI),” the leader added.
The legal course was earlier considered seriously by the party leadership. Former railway minister Mukul Roy, a close confidant of Mamata, had said that the video footage that went viral on TV news channels and social networking were “manufactured”.
Roy had even threatened to move court.
“But once the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress moved Calcutta High Court separately seeking a CBI probe, the party’s think tank has developed cold feet about going to court,” party sources said.
“Even the Saradha scam earlier that hit Trinamool credibility went out of control once the court ordered CBI investigation,” they added.
A number of party MPs including two former ministers have taken objection to the manner their colleague Saugata Roy reacted to the sting operation charges in the Lok Sabha.
“Protesting and questioning Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s ruling when she ordered a probe by the Ethics Committee was unnecessary. Saugata, himself shown receiving currency, should have either kept mum in the house or taken a high moral ground and said our party is not scared of any probe,” said another leader adding: “That would have been politically more sound a decision.”
Two party leaders Dinesh Trivedi and Sugata Bose have already expressed their reservation on how the party has reacted initially to the sting operation charges.
The 15-member ethics panel of Lok Sabha headed by Bharatiya Janata Party veteran L.K. Advani has been asked to conduct its “examination, investigation and report” into the issue by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Five Trinamool members from the Lok Sabha — Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmad, Suvendu Adhikari, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee — and one from the Rajya Sabha, Mukul Roy, are shown allegedly accepting bribes in the sting operation.
Incidentally, Saugata Roy is the younger brother of a key BJP leader from West Bengal Tatagatha Roy, who is now Tripura governor.
“Saugata Roy is a senior party parliamentarian and knows the parliamentary decorum well. He should have instead supported a probe by the house panel itself. On the contrary he questioned on the first day under which rule Congress, Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPI-M) and BJP MPs were raising the issue in Lok Sabha,” the party source said.
The party leaders also remained divided on the stance taken by their Rajya Sabha floor leader Deren O’Brien when he said foreign money was pumped in from Dubai for the sting operation.
“Even in such a case, we should have preferred if not order a probe at the state government level itself,” the party source added.