Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday hit out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her ongoing ‘dharna’ over the current CBI vs state police tussle and alleged that her actions are aimed at hogging the limelight by projecting herself as the epicentre of the united Opposition and defocusing those aspiring to be prime minister.
In a blog post titled “The Kleptocrat’s Club,” Jaitley said, “What is the strategy behind Chief Minister’s disgraceful and disproportionate reaction? What is her strategy in inviting all other leaders belonging to every opposition to join her on the Dharna?”
“It would be a gross error to assume that she did this because of a routine investigation involving a Police Officer. She did it to defocus from other opposition aspirants for the highest office and to project herself as the nucleus of India’s opposition. Her speeches attack Prime Minister Modi but her strategy is aimed to defocus some of her other colleagues in the Opposition and hogging the centre stage,” Jaitley added.
He further aimed a jibe at opposition leaders for supporting Banerjee in her protest, saying that a “Kleptocrat’s Club now aspires to capture the reigns of India”.
“Mamata Banerjee’s disproportionate over-reaction to the CBI wanting to interrogate the Kolkata Police Chief has flagged several issues for a public discourse. The most important being that a Kleptocrat’s Club now aspires to capture the reigns of India,” Jaitley said.
He noted that the chit fund fraud in West Bengal was unearthed in 2012-13 and a Supreme Court-monitored probe was handed to the CBI.
“If a Police Officer is also required to be interrogated, how does it become a ‘super emergency’, ‘assault on Federalism’, or ‘destruction of Institutions’?” Jaitley said.
His remarks come in the wake of Banerjee staging a sit-in protest at Kolkata’s Metro Channel station since Sunday night.
Her protest came after a full-blown faceoff erupted between the Centre and the TMC government as five CBI officials moved to arrest Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar earlier that day.
However, the CBI officers were not allowed access to Kumar’s residence and were detained by the city police. The CBI alleged that it had evidence that Kumar had tampered with evidence in the Saradha chit fund scam case when he was heading a SIT probe into the case.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Kumar to appear before the CBI for investigation in the Saradha chit fund case.
However, the bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Hans Raj Khanna stated that no coercive step will be taken against Kumar.
Jaitley in his blog said, “Today the CBI is being brutally prevented by physical force and detention of its officer from investigating a crime legally within its jurisdiction, in the State of West Bengal. It is a textbook illustration of a State Government assaulting Federalism. The prevention of a Central investigating agency discharging a function given to it by the Supreme Court is a direct assault on Federalism”.
Jaitley said that the most “important commonality” between all opposition parties supporting Banerjee is that they aspire to be in power and that most of them, or their associates “are today being investigated, prosecuted and in some cases have also been convicted for crimes of corruption”.
“India cannot afford instability. It has also been argued that the choice in the next Election will be either Modi Vs. Chaos or Modi Vs. Anarchy. Mamata Banerjee’s latest acrobatics are the best evidence of the kind of governance India’s opposition can provide. Can “New India” be ever run by this Kleptocrat’s Club?” Jaitley said.