Arrested Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee Is Just Tip Of Corruption Iceberg, Thorough Probe Will Reveal Deep Rot

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Jul 25, 2022 12:57 PM +05:30 IST
Arrested Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee Is Just Tip Of Corruption Iceberg, Thorough Probe Will Reveal Deep RotMamata Banerjee and Partha Chatterjee.
Snapshot
  • The opposition is keen on Chatterjee’s proper and intensive interrogation to make him reveal the involvement of others in his party in the mega scam.

The arrest of senior Bengal minister and close Mamata Banerjee aide Partha Chatterjee from his southwest Kolkata residence in the small hours of Sunday has, expectedly, triggered a huge political stir in the state.

While the ruling Trinamool is trying its best to distance itself from the tainted minister and is now demanding that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conclude its probe into a teacher recruitment scam quickly, the opposition says that the ambit of the investigations be expanded to net everyone who would have received pay-offs from this cash-for-job scam.

Because Chatterjee, say opposition leaders, is “just the tip of the Trinamool corruption iceberg”. “Chatterjee is not the only beneficiary of the teacher recruitment scam. He is not the only link to the huge hoard of cash and valuables found on his ‘close associate’ Arpita Mukherjee,” said BJP national vice president Dilip Ghosh.

Ghosh’s allegations are not unfounded. It is well known that Trinamool functionaries donate a major share of the ‘spoils’ to the party coffers.

In fact, Dola Sen, senior Trinamool leader and another close aide of party chief Mamata Banwerjee, was caught on camera asking party workers to give 75 per cent of the money they extorted (from businessmen, industrialists, contractors etc) to the party and keep the remaining 25 per cent for themselves.

Sen, addressing a meeting of party workers, had said an ‘audit’ will be conducted on how much money extorted by party functionaries had been deposited with the party and how much they (the functionaries) had retained for themselves.

“Dola Sen was caught on camera passing these instructions. Many other Trinamool seniors routinely ask party workers and lower-level leaders to liberally share the money they make illegally with the party. They say that big business houses don’t donate funds to the Trinamool like they do to other parties. Since the party (Trinamool) has to function properly, everyone should share their ill-gotten wealth with the party,” said BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari who was once a senior in the Trinamool.

“The argument (made for sharing the ‘spoils’ with the party) made by the Trinamool leadership is that they (the functionaries) are making money only because of the party being in power. And the party needs a lot of money to function properly and keep its cadres ‘happy’. So those who make money illegally should share the moolah with the party,” explained Adhikari.

Leaders of the CPI(M) and the Congress also agree with this and are demanding that the ED put Chatterjee through intense interrogation in order to make him reveal more names.

“He (Chatterjee) is not the only Trinamool leader who is guilty of corruption and involvement in scams. All of them are guilty and the ED has to question Partha Chatterjee properly. Sustained interrogation will open up the Trinamnool’s can of worms,” said CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty.

A senior Congress leader and office-bearer of the Pradesh Congress Committee said that the ED should not cut any quarter while interrogating Partha Chatterjee.

“As the ED rightly said before the court, Chatterjee got himself admitted to the SSKM Hospital (in Kolkata) to evade questioning and was ‘behaving like a don’ in the hospital. Now that the ED has taken him to AIIMS, Bhubaneshwar, where a correct assessment of his health condition will be done, no stone should be left unturned in interrogating him properly and making him spill the beans,” said the Congress leader.

The BJP’s Dilip Ghosh said that the scam in recruitment of teachers by the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) was not a small one that Partha Chatterjee could have kept hidden from his party colleagues and even the Trinamool top leadership.

“This scam is a huge one and other senior Trinamool leaders cannot feign ignorance. There is no way it could have been Partha Chatterjee’s small sideshow. The enormous sum of money and other valuables running into more than Rs 30 crore recovered from the apartment of just an aide of Partha Chatterjee would have been just a fraction of the proceeds of the scam. The ED has to probe where the bulk of the funds went, who all received them and where they have been parked,” said Ghosh.

BJP leaders say that though the Trinamool leadership is attempting to distance itself from Partha Chatterjee and his alleged misdeeds, the party in power (Trinamool) will definitely use the might and reach of the state machinery to prevent the ED from interrogating Chatterjee in a sustained manner. Because such a sustained interrogation will surely net many others in the party and may even reveal the involvement of the party leadership.

“That the Trinamool will use its influence and the state machinery to prevent a proper interrogation of Partha Chaterjee became amply evident when it facilitated the arrested minister’s admission to the SSKM and the doctors (who are on the government’s payroll) attempted to prevent the minister’s interrogation on the grounds that he was seriously ill and couldn’t thus be questioned,” argued a BJP leader.

Hence, say opposition leaders, it is necessary to take Chatterjee away from Bengal — the farther away the better — and put him through intense interrogation.

“It is absolutely necessary to make him confess and name the other beneficiaries of the scam, how the money used to be paid to them and where most of the hoard has been parked. For that to happen, it is imperative that he (Chatterjee) be taken beyond the reach of the Bengal government and the ruling party which will, obviously, be very apprehensive about what Chatterjee will reveal under pressure. So the ruling party will try to use every means at its disposal to prevent the ED from interrogating Chatterjee very closely and intensely. The Trinamool will never want the truth to come out and will not want Chatterjee to reveal the true extent of the enormous scam which would have definitely benefited many others in the party,” said the BJP leader.

“He (Chatterjee) should not be allowed to feign illness in order to avoid interrogation. It is good that the court has allowed the ED to take him to Bhubaneshwar for a correct medical assessment. The ED should now get the court’s permission to interrogate him outside Bengal,” said the Congress leader.

The opposition is, thus, keen on Chatterjee’s proper and intensive interrogation to make him reveal the involvement of others in his party in the mega scam.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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