Kolkata: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)-Kolkata police stand-off escalated even further with the Opposition parties putting their weight behind protesting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the BJP-led Centre defending the agency’s action.
A CBI team had landed at police chief Rajeev Kumar’s residence on Sunday evening, wanting to question him in connection with the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams. Kolkata police managed to whisk away the team but the action led to Banerjee sitting on a dharna in Kumar’s support.
Here are the top developments in the issue so far:
1. Mamata calls her dharna ‘Satyagraha’
As her protest entered Monday, Banerjee said it was a ‘Satyagraha’ and she would continue it to save the country and the democracy. “We have full confidence in the judiciary, media and the people… If they want to impose President’s Rule, we are ready for it,” she reportedly said.
2. CBI moves Supreme Court
The CBI filed a plea in the apex court naming Kumar as a “potential accused” and seeking directions to the state government and police to cooperate with the probe. Some media reports suggest that the CBI has also filed a contempt plea against West Bengal’s Chief Secretary and Director General of Police and Kolkata Police Commissioner for wilful and deliberate violation of apex court’s orders.
3. SC assures stern action
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi told the CBI, “If the Kolkata Police Commissioner even remotely thinks of destroying evidence, bring the material before this Court. We will come down so heavily on him that he will regret.” The apex court would be hearing this plea today.
4. New CBI chief takes charge
Amid the drama being played out in Kolkata, CBI chief Rishi Kumar Shukla took charge of the probe agency on Monday. However, even that didn’t go down too well with certain reports claiming that former UP DGP Javeed Ahmed is upset that he wasn’t picked instead.
5. Drama in Parliament
The Lok Sabha reportedly witnessed three adjournments following heated arguments. The Rajya Sabha also had to be adjourned. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh defended the CBI action by saying that it “was taken after the Supreme Court had ordered an investigation” into the scam. “There may be constitutional breakdown in the state…the Kolkata police move was unprecedented,” he said. He also warned that the Centre had powers to take action.
6. Opposition rallies behind Banerjee
Over 20 political leaders have expressed solidarity with Banerjee’s protest so far, including ten serving and former chief ministers and a former prime minister apart from Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The list has Delhi CM and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, former J&K chief ministers (CM) Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy, DMK President MK Stalin, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, former Maharashtra chief minister Sharad Pawar, former MP and RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani; former Bihar CM Lalu Yadav, former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu.
7. Governor submits report
The Home Minister had reached out to West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi to submit his report on the situation. Tripathi’s report was sent by evening.
8. BJP turns to Election Commission
A high-level BJP delegation led by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission on how the TMC did not believe in democracy. The BJP sought the poll panel’s intervention so that the Lok Sabha polls can be held in a “free and fair” manner. The saffron party has been alleging that the state government denied permission to land UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s chopper for his scheduled rallies. Yogi then addressed the rallies on the phone.
On Day 3 on Tuesday, while the Supreme Court will hear the CBI’s plea, Banerjee will continue to sit on dharna. Meanwhile, UP CM Adityanath has cancelled his Bansura rally over the alleged delay in granting permission to his chopper to land. His Purulia rally, however, is likely to go as per schedule.