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TMC to approach SC to challenge CBI probe order

The Trinamool Congress will approach the Supreme Court to challenge a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into a sting operation that purportedly showed a string of top leaders taking bribes, party chief Mamata Banerjee said on Friday.

Speaking at Nabanna hours after the Calcutta high court ordered a central probe; Banerjee alleged the scandal – first aired on naradanews.com in March 2016 – was sponsored by the BJP. "Everyone knows this that the sting was published from BJP office… we will approach the higher judiciary," the Chief Minister said.

Calcutta high court acting chief justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty asked the CBI to complete a preliminary inquiry in 72 hours and file an FIR, if necessary.

Without naming anyone, Banerjee said how could the president of a political party say in advance during a press conference that after the results of UP elections were out, the high court would order a CBI enquiry?

"I am a lawyer but tell me, before the judgment was pronounced today (Friday), how could the president of a political party say a few days before that after results were declared in UP elections, the high court will ask CBI to conduct inquiry into the Narada sting operation," the CM inquired.

She said the state government and her party would raise this matter in the Supreme Court. She further added that the state government had started investigating the case but within a day after it had begun the probe, the "high court had passed an order asking the city police not to proceed any further".

The Trinamool Congress chief said the Election Commission had allowed political parties to take donations worth Rs 1-2 lakh and "we had submitted the expenditure involved in the election along with the Income Tax documents to the Election Commission," she said. Banerjee further added "how could the person who had been shown in the video giving bribes to the political leaders allowed to go scot free."

Banerjee further said those who had been implicated in the Narada sting operation including Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim and Sovan Chatterjee — won convincingly in the 2016 Assembly elections that followed. "It was a government that was set up on people's mandate and we must respect that," she added.

The Narada sting operation was carried out before 2014 Lok Sabha polls. But it was published shortly before the 2016 Assembly elections. The opposition parties and a section of the media blew it out of proportion and had launched scathing attacks on Mamata Banerjee for fielding candidates whose names had appeared in the sting operation.

In all the political meetings, the Congress and CPI(M) had criticised Banerjee and went on to call the TMC "a party of corrupt people." The opposition made the Narada sting operation a major poll plank. In all the political meetings addressed by Mamata Banerjee, she defended her move and finally the TMC won the 2016 Assembly elections with 211 out of 294 seats.

Banerjee said it was unfortunate that Kolkata Police had been called "a puppet". She remarked: "Kolkata Police is one of the best police forces in the country and it is a disciplined force. I respect Kolkata Police."

Banerjee reiterated that the investigation should be conducted and those involved should be punished. "Let investigation be done and if I am guilty take action against me," she added.

Highlights

    1. Without naming anyone, Mamata Banerjee said how could the president of a political party say in advance during a press conference that after the results of UP elections were out, the high court would order a CBI enquiry?
    2. The TMC chief said the EC had allowed political parties to take donations worth Rs 1-2 lakh and "we had submitted the expenditure involved in the election along with the Income Tax documents"
    3. Despite the timing of the 'expose,' Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim and Sovan Chatterjee won with a whopping majority in the Assembly elections
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