The political drama in West Bengal surrounding the face-off between police and CBI in the state, doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. At one hand, the BJP, its allies and the central government claim that Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar must be taken under custody for the investigation of Sharada chit fund scam. Whereas on the other hand West Bengal’s ruling party TMC, and other opposition parties maintain that the BJP is only using the CBI to harass its opponents before 2019 general elections
Since, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna at Kolkata, to protest against CBI’s attempts to arrest Kolkata police commissioner, various opposition leaders have come forward in her support. Backing Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray said, “We applaud and support the stand taken by Mamata Banerjee against the autocracy and tyranny of the Central government. We firmly stand behind her and the fight against this tyranny,” read a statement issued by Raj Thackeray on Sunday.
Meanwhile, launching a scathing attack, former Prime Minister and JDS supremo HD Deve Gowda asserted that the events which followed after the unprecedented development showed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “overacted by using the CBI”, which in turn will not help him for gaining political benefits.
“CBI went to arrest Kolkata Police Commissioner yesterday, this is a misuse of CBI. It is much worse than Emergency. The way the events have unfolded (in West Bengal) since last night shows the Prime Minister has overacted by using the CBI. This won’t help him,” he told ANI.
Echoing similar resonance, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah backed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegation that the country is in danger of becoming dictatorial.
“Her (Mamata Banerjee) allegation is right. This country is in danger as it is becoming dictatorial. They (Central government) are not masters of this country, people are,” he told reporters in the national capital.
Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and PDP chief, also expressed her disapproval to the move, saying: “It is unfortunate that institutions like the CBI are used to settle personal political scores. Earlier, we saw what happened in the cases of Akhilesh (Yadav) and Mayawati. We, in Jammu and Kashmir, have an experience of NIA. In the current crisis, my party and I are with Mamata Ji. If these things continue, it will have an impact on the fine balance of Center-State relationship in our federal structure.”
Amidst high political drama in West Bengal, Chief Minister Banerjee, who is currently on her ‘Save the Constitution’ dharna, said that a memorandum has been signed by all the opposition parties which will be submitted to the Election Commission later in the day.
The dharna began on Sunday night after a CBI team moved to arrest the state police commissioner. They were denied entry to Kolkata Police chief’s residence, following which five CBI officers were detained by the police. The officials were released later.
A 1989-batch IPS officer of West Bengal cadre, Kumar was heading a SIT on the Saradha and Rose Valley scams. The CBI wanted the top officer to hand over the seizure list made during his probe, sources said.
Reportedly, the top cop was to be questioned regarding missing documents and files but was not responding to notices to appear before the agency.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court warned of strong action if the Kolkata Police Commissioner was found “even remotely thinking of destroying” evidence in the Saradha chit fund scam as the Centre moved the top court for arresting him. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will hear the matter tomorrow.
While the BJP-led central government accused Banerjee of not allowing CBI to function independently in the state, a number of opposition leaders including, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Yadav, his son Tejashwi Yadav, National Conference chief Omar Abdullah, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, among others have expressed solidarity with the West Bengal Chief Minister.
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav also hit out at the BJP, accusing the party of misusing CBI to silence its political opponents ahead of the general elections. He further extended his support to Banerjee’s dharna, saying that his party is with the TMC supremo.
“With the elections nearing, BJP is misusing CBI. It is not just I or SP saying this, the entire Opposition is saying it. BJP’s roots have not reached West Bengal yet. They are deliberately doing this,” Akhilesh told reporters in Lucknow.
Hitting out at state chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s ‘thokna’ remark, the SP chief asserted that such language is used only by the BJP.
“Look at Yogi ji, he said in the Legislative Assembly ‘I will shoot down all opposition leaders’. This type of language is used by the BJP. Why they cannot debate on unemployment and inflation instead? They are using CBI to silence the Opposition. Does this happen in a democracy?” Akhilesh added.
(With inputs from agencies)