Mamata-Modi showdown: Opposition stands united with Didi; CBI moves SC
Kolkata turned into a battlefield on Sunday after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna to protest Narendra Modi's 'authoritarian regime'. It all started after CBI visited Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar's residence to interrogate him in connection with Saradha and Rose Valley Chit Fund scams. Banerjee's claims of Centre misusing its powers got her support from other opposition leaders as well. But what exactly happened? We tell you.
The CBI wanted to question Kumar for the 'faults' in his probe. Kumar headed the SIT, which was formed by Banerjee's government, to investigate the scams. Later, the Supreme Court transferred the case to CBI. The premier investigative agency alleged Kumar didn't hand over complete documents to them. He was repeatedly summoned but didn't respond. So on Sunday, at around 6 PM, officials went to his home for questioning.
When CBI officials reached his residence, they were met with resistance. They stood at the gates for long and Kumar didn't meet them. Soon officers of Kolkata police reached Kumar's residence. CBI officials weren't just outnumbered by local police but were harassed as well. The police bundled them into a van and forcibly took them to Shakespeare Sarani police station.
While the eight-member team of CBI, led by Tathagata Bardhan, was manhandled, other CBI officials ran from one station to another. When CBI officials went to Park Street Police Station to hand over the letter of intimation they were told to visit the Shakespeare Sarani police station as Kumar's residence fell under Sarani police station. The way officials were treated miffed CBI.
Talking about the unprecedented series of events, interim CBI chief M Nageshwar Rao said Kumar never cooperated in the last 2-3 years. He added CBI officials were harassed in 'different ways' whenever they wanted to question Kumar or others. He said civilians had surrounded CBI's offices too and he feared important documents related to the probe could be destroyed.
While the entire drama played out, Banerjee paid a visit to Kumar. Coming out of his residence after 40 minutes, Banerjee said the actions of CBI were 'blatantly wrong'. She reminded that the matter was sub-judice and CBI can't visit the Commissioner's house 'without prior notice'. Upping her ante against the Centre, Banerjee then began her 'Save the Constitution' dharna.
Banerjee and other members of her Cabinet protested in Central Kolkata. "This is a Satyagraha and I'll continue till the country is saved," Banerjee said. Meanwhile, opposition supported her. Congress President Rahul Gandhi spoke to her and said the country will 'combine' to fight 'fascist forces'. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda also slammed Centre.
"They (the BJP) cannot fight is politically. That's why they are resorting to all this... Mr (Ajit) Doval is doing whatever PM wants him to do, he is the one giving all the instructions to CBI," Banerjee said.
#WATCH West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continues dharna over CBI issue after a short break early morning. West Bengal CM began the 'Save the Constitution' dharna last night. #Kolkata pic.twitter.com/DBoS0GC1MJ— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
NC stalwart Farooq Abdullah agreed with Banerjee's stand. He said, "Country is in danger as its becoming dictatorial. They (Central govt) are not masters of this country, people are." Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said, "Not just West Bengal, the center is misusing CBI as the elections are coming near." Notably, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut also said Banerjee's dharna was 'big issue'.
Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena: If CM of a big state as WB,is sitting on dharna, then it is a serious matter. Is this CBI vs Mamata Banerjee or Mamata Banerjee vs BJP, we'll find out soon. If CBI is being misused, it's a matter of dignity of the nation, and prestige of the agency (CBI). pic.twitter.com/LggpODHxzw— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
After the ugly turn of events, CBI approached the Supreme Court against Bengal government for 'obstructing justice'. The top court agreed to hear the plea on Tuesday. Reacting to reports that Kumar could destroy evidence, CJI Ranjan Gogoi said they will teach him a lesson 'which he will regret'. The court also asked CBI to produce material before it.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders slammed Banerjee for stifling democracy. West Bengal BJP Chief Dilip Ghosh said, "In Paschim Banga, nothing is secure; neither the Democracy nor the Constitution and of course the CBI too." Babul Supriyo tweeted that Banerjee "arrested CBI, didn't allow Shah's rally in the state and allowed her goondas to kill BJP men". BJP wants President's rule to be imposed in Bengal.