Mamata Banerjee After Bengal Minister’s Arrest


Mamata Banerjee After Bengal Minister’s Arrest

New Delhi:

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee broke her silence today on her minister Partha Chatterjee’s arrest two days ago. “I don’t support corruption or any wrongdoing,” she said, appearing to distance herself from the Trinamool Congress leader she once counted among her closest aides.

But the Chief Minister also said the “BJP is wrong if it thinks it can break my party using agencies.”

Partha Chatterjee, the Bengal Industries Minister, was arrested on Saturday on money-laundering charges linked to a school jobs scam. He was accused of a role in allegedly illegal appointments of schoolteachers and staff in government-run schools when he was Education Minister.

Around Rs 20 crore in cash was found from the house of a close associate of Partha Chatterjee, Arpita Mukherjee. Images of mountains of cash flashed on TV screens. The minister was arrested after midnight. The Enforcement Directorate says the minister was in contact with Ms Mukherjee and that the cash found in her home was “proceeds of crime”.

7c60v21

The ED had raided Arpita Mukerjee’s residence on Friday.

“If anyone is found guilty, he or she must be punished, but I condemn any malicious campaign against me. The truth must come out, but within a time-frame,” Mamata Banerjee said.

Mamata Banerjee had not said a word earlier on the arrest and has ghosted Partha Chatterjee.

Mr Chatterjee, 70, made three calls to the Chief Minister after his arrest but all three went unanswered, an “Arrest Memo” revealed. He had chosen Mamata Banerjee for his call to a “relative/friend whom the person taken in custody intends to inform”.

His first call to her, after his arrest at around 1.55 am, was made at 2.33 am. He called again at 3.37 am and 9.35 am, but without luck.

The Trinamool Congress had denied the calls. The party’s Firhad Hakim said there was “no question” of the arrested minister calling Mamata Banerjee as his phone was with the Enforcement Directorate.

Mr Chatterjee was hospitalised soon after he was sent to the Enforcement Directorate’s custody as he complained of uneasiness. The Enforcement Directorate approached the court saying he should be moved out of the state-run SSKM hospital in Kolkata, where he was known to assert his influence as a powerful minister.

Following the Calcutta High Court’s order to take him to AIIMS-Bhuvaneswar, Mr Chatterjee was flown to Odisha by air ambulance this morning. The court was told that he was fit, that he did not need hospitalization.