I'm victim of conspiracy, recovered money not mine: Partha Chatterjee
Partha Chatterjee, the arrested and now-sacked West Bengal minister at the center of a multi-crore school recruitment scam, claimed on Sunday he was the victim of a conspiracy. He claimed the money found during the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids doesn't belong to him and only time would expose the conspirators. Chatterjee was speaking to the media outside a hospital, where he was being examined.
- Chatterjee, a senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and former West Bengal minister, is the latest in a long line of opposition leaders apprehended by the ED.
- His detention was earlier condemned by the TMC as a "ploy" to "harass" political opponents.
- The BJP, on the other hand, claimed that the TMC had "sponsored large-scale irregularities" in the recruitment of teachers at all levels.
When confronted by reporters outside the ESI Hospital in Joka, Chatterjee remarked, "The money (recovered) is not mine." "You will find out when the time comes," he said when further asked if someone conspired against him. Later, when he was leaving the hospital, Chatterjee stated again that the money did not belong to him and that he "had never been involved in such dealings."
The ED has recovered approximately Rs. 50 crore in cash and gold bars, the value of which is being ascertained, from properties related to Arpita Mukherjee, one of Chatterjee's close associates. Notably, the probe agency is looking into the money trail involved in the scam. Chatterjee was in charge of the education department when the alleged scam was carried out.
Meanwhile, the BJP organized a protest rally in Narayangarh area of Paschim Medinipur, demanding the arrest of tainted TMC leaders. "If the money recovered doesn't belong to Partha Chatterjee, then whose is it? He should say this, people of this state want to know who is the owner of this looted money. He should spill the beans," said BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar.
Chatterjee, once a close ally of TMC chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, was dismissed as a minister and removed from all party roles on Thursday following the corruption charges mounting against him. Later, Chatterjee voiced his displeasure with the party's decision. However, the TMC leadership reacted to his remarks, claiming that Chatterjee is to blame for his own fate.
Chatterjee and Mukherjee were arrested on July 23 after the ED reportedly found Rs. 21 crore in cash from Mukherjee's Tollygunge residence. The ED collected an additional Rs. 29 crore from her second residence during an 18-hour operation on Wednesday. Mukherjee allegedly informed the ED that her home was utilized as a "mini-bank." Both accused will be held in jail until Wednesday (August 3).