Mamata Banerjee publicly defends the Narada accused
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Mamata Banerjee publicly defends the Narada accused

Nothing can be proved against them, said the Bengal chief minister.

kolkata Updated: May 10, 2017 07:21 IST
Narada,Mamata Banerjee,Trinamool Congress
Mamata Banerjee made it clear that she will stand by all her party leaders who were accused in the Narada case.(HT Photo)

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee publicly defended her party leaders accused of accepting bribes in the Narada FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and said that they won’t be able to prove anything.

“They have registered a case against 13 persons. Hey, why don’t you stand up? They will not be able to prove anything,” she said almost in a voice full of disdain that almost sounded like a challenge. This was the first time she actually defended the accused -- 12 Trinamool leaders and one IPS officer -- after CBI filed the FIR on April 16.

Read: Narada case: Mention of Abhishek Banerjee in FIR sends Trinamool in tizzy

All the leaders named in the Narada FIR, who were also seating on the dais, stood up immediately. The Bengal chief minister was speaking at Netaji Indoor Stadium which was the venue for the organisational election for the party held every six years.

Leader of Trinamool Congress in Lok Sabha, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, was arrested by CBI in early January for his alleged involvement in the Rose Valley scam. He has been in CBI custody since. Mamata Banerjee has maintained that he was arrested for criticising the demonetisation decision on the floor of the House. (HT Photo)

She devoted most of her 50-minute speech to attacking BJP which has started its Bengal offensive with renewed vigour after the Uttar Pradesh elections, unprecedented Ram Navami celebrations in Bengal and the dramatic rise in the party’s vote share in Assembly bypoll in Kanthi Dakshin -- 9% to 31% between 2016 and 2017.

Read: ‘There is a hate campaign against me’: Mamata Banerjee takes a dig at BJP

The Narada sting has plunged Mamata Banerjee in perhaps the deepest crisis yet as it showed as many as 12 senior leaders of the party taking cash. They were Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy, Lok Sabha MPs Saugata Roy, Aparupa Poddar, Sultan Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, ministers Firhad Hakim, Suvendu Adhikari, Sovan Chatterjee (also the Kolkata mayor) and Subrata Mukherjee, former minister Madan Mitra, MLA Iqbal Ahmed. IPS officer Saiyaad Mustafa Hussain Mirza have also been named as accused.

Significantly, Central Forensic Science Laboratory has already ruled that the videos aired for the first time in mid-April 2016 was not doctored. Last month Calcutta high court handed over the investigation to CBI. Supreme court upheld the decision.

“Don’t be afraid. Are you afraid?” she asked the party workers present in the stadium. Mamata Banerjee reiterated her allegation that the Narada was nothing but a political conspiracy.

Tapas Paul is the other Trinamool Lok Sabha MP who is in CBI custody right now. He, too, was arrested by CBI late last year for his alleged involvement in the Rose Valley scam. (HT Photo)

“Here is Madan Mitra, who was put in jail for two years. What was his crime? He was seen in a meeting with somebody,” said the chief minister dismissively. Incidentally, former transport and sports minister Madan Mitra was accused in the Saradha scam.

The Trinamool chief also dared the rulign establishment at the Centre to continue incarcerating her party leaders. “Put all of us in jail as you have put Sudip Bandyopadhyay. Remember, if you put us in jail in Delhi, we will drive our roots in Gujarat, Delhi, Punjab and other states,” she said.

Read: Amit Shah to launch ‘booth chalo’ drive in Bengal

Sudip Bandyopadhyay has been in CBI custody in Bhubaneswar since early January for his involvement in the Rs 17,000-crore Rose Valley scam.

Mamata Banerjee continued to lash out at BJP describing it as a party of “rioters and those peddling death and violence”.

“Hinduism is tolerance. But your brand of Hinduism means parading with swords. We have never seen rallies with swords here,” she said.

Read: TMC in a fix over rise of BJP’s aggressive Hindutva in Bengal

The chief minister also took a dig at CBI and remarked, “We have respect for original CBI. But this is the CBI of Gujubabus (the Gujarati gentry). They seem to be like mice,” she said.

The chief minister also asked her party leaders and workers to be vigilant in their neighbourhoods for the next two years till 2019. “Watch out whether they are bringing people from outside, from other states. They may be staying in your area as relatives of locals. If you see any such irregular presence, you can bring it to the notice of your local authorities and police station. You may also bring ti to my notice. Write it on a piece of paper and hand it over to an officer in my residence who is called Sankhasubhra,” said Mamata Banerjee.

First Published: Apr 21, 2017 15:30 IST