Narada investigation an acid test for Bengal BJP

Though officially it does not have any control on the CBI, the outcome of the investigation, whichever way it goes, will affect the prospect of BJP in Bengal.

kolkata Updated: Apr 25, 2017 15:12 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
The credibility of BJP leaders in Bengal (former state president Rahul Sinha and current president Dilip Ghosh) depends to some extent on the outcome of the Narada prove.(HT Photo)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) naming as many as seven MPs, three ministers (including the mayor of Kolkata) and two MLAs of the Trinamool Congress in the Narada scandal is possibly the best news Bengal’s opposition has heard since 2011. But for the state BJP, the most formidable among all opposition forces at the moment, it is also an acid test.

Ever since the BJP launched its offensive at the hustings - a phenomenon not witnessed during the Left regime – party leaders had to face an allegation from the CPI(M) and Congress: BJP was nothing but a “secret partner” of Trinamool Congress. The allegation became part of the Left-Congress election propaganda during the Assembly polls in 2016. It gained momentum whenever opposition leaders felt that CBI investigations into the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams were going slow, and when any BJP national leader or Union ministers kept silent on Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee during a visit to Bengal.

Read: Setback for Mamata and Trinamool, HC asks CBI to probe Narada sting operation

On Monday, the shadow boxing over the alleged Trinamool-BJP bonhomie - “setting” is the more popular word among Left leaders - appeared to have reached a crucial point. As Left and Congress leaders carefully phrased their comments on the FIR, it seemed that to politically survive and keep the ranks growing, Bengal BJP leaders would have to prove to the masses that it never had an “understanding” with Mamata Banerjee. The problem was, it would happen only if the CBI probe into the Narada scam went the way the Left and Congress desired. And, the state BJP was in no position to ensure that.

The Narada investigation has landed Mamata Banerjee in the biggest trouble in her four-decade old political career. It has also presented BJP with a rare opportunity to go after Trinamool Congress in Bengal. (HT Photo)

Though Mamata Banerjee countered the opposition by saying that the FIR was “a political game” and she would “fight it out politically,” the opposition wasn’t convinced.

Left and Congress leaders made it crystal clear that BJP would remain in their crosshairs.

Read: Abhi dudh ka dudh, paani ka paani ho jayega: Narada CEO Mathew Samuel

“Since all the accused are influential people and enjoy the blessings of the chief minister they must be interrogated in CBI custody. Or else, they will get the opportunity to influence the probe. We hope the CBI will pursue the investigation seriously, without showing any fear or favour. People of Bengal have seen how the BJP and Trinamool work hand in hand,” CPI-M Lok Sabha MP and politburo member Md Salim told HT.

Leader of opposition and veteran Congress leader Abdul Mannan, the man who filed the first PIL in the Saradha chit fund case, said: “We demand an impartial investigation and don’t want to see it being influenced by the Trinamool-BJP partnership. Our party will hit the streets and raise this demand.”

Mamata Banerjee has maintained that the Narada sting operation was a political conspiracy by the opposition to destabilise her government. (HT Photo)

Realising that the Congress and CPI(M) would not stop targeting the BJP, the party’s state president Dilip Ghosh said: “The FIR has assured the people that justice will be delivered. This will put an end to all speculations.”

Having spent years as BJP state president, party general secretary Rahul Sinha reacted more aggressively. “The FIR has proved that all these allegations about a ‘setting’ between the Trinamool and BJP is only propaganda. The CBI files an FIR only after gathering enough proof against an accused. Mamata Banerjee is visibly scared,” Sinha told HT.

Read: Mamata’s Trinamool faces heat, CBI files FIR against 12 leaders featuring in Narada sting

“I am confident that all these corrupt leaders will be punished. The Congress and CPI(M) should stop talking about BJP-Trinamool bonhomie. If they continue to make speculative remarks about the outcome of this investigation, they will only expose their political bankruptcy,” added Sinha.

Trinamool leaders against whom the CBI registered the FIR include Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy and Lok Sabha MPs Saugata Roy, Aparupa Poddar, Sultan Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar.

West Bengal ministers, including urban development minister Firhad Hakim, transport minister Suvendu Adhikari, environment minister and Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee and panchayati raj and rural development minister Subrata Mukherjee.

Former minister Madan Mitra, MLA Iqbal Ahmed and IPS officer Saiyaad Mustafa Hussain Mirza have also been accused in the case. Mirza, who was posted as the superintendent of police, Burdwan, was seen accepting money on camera.

First Published: Apr 18, 2017 14:34 IST