In an embarrassment to the ruling Trinamool Congress, West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra was on Friday arrested by CBI in the multi-crore Saradha scam, prompting a livid CM Mamata Banerjee to slam BJP calling it a political vendetta and a dirty conspiracy.
Banerjee also condemned the arrest as illegal and unconstitutional and said it is a dangerous step to destroy democratic institutions.
The sharp attack by the TMC supremo, came even as the BJP demanded her resignation taking moral responsibility after the fresh CBI action in the scam.
Mitra submitted his letter of resignation during the day but it was not accepted by the chief minister.
Mitra was arrested in a case relating to Saradha Realty on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, misappropriation of funds as well as deriving undue financial benefits from the Saradha Group, a CBI spokesman said in Kolkata on Friday.
He was taken into custody after five hours of intense questioning at the Salt Lake CGO complex housing the CBI office.
CBI sources said that Mitra would be taken to Electronic Complex police station tonight and produced at the Alipur court on Saturday.
The CBI had earlier arrested two TMC Rajya Sabha MPs Srinjay Bose and Kunal Ghosh in connection with the Saradha scam.
The CBI on Friday also arrested Naresh Balodia, legal advisor to Sudipto Sen and Saradha Group on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and diversion of funds in the same case, he said.
Shortly after Mitra’s arrest, Banerjee unleashed a sharp attack against the Centre, dubbing it as “political vendetta” and “dirty conspiracy” by the BJP.
“What has happened is illegal and unconstitutional. It is a dangerous step to destroy democratic institutions. My government condemns the arrest of Madan Mitra in the strictest of terms,” Banerjee told newspersons at the state secretariat on Friday.
“It is a conspiracy, very dirty conspiracy, I ask the Prime Minister to put me in jail first. He (Mitra) was called as a witness. Within a few years he was arrested. is it not a political vendetta?” a furious Banerjee said.
She said that the Trinamool Congress would hit the streets from Saturday and threatened to take up the issue in Parliament.
BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said, “Mitra’s arrest shows the TMC leadership is neck deep in the Saradha scam and the dots are leading to the Mamata Banerjee’s doorstep. It is time for Mamata Banerjee to resign taking moral responsibility.”
“Mamata Banerjee while addressing a rally last year had said ‘Is Kunal a thief, Is Madan a thief, Is Srinjoy a thief, Is Mukul a thief, am I a thief?’ Now Kunal, Srinjoy and Madan are behind bars. It is Bhag Madan Bhag in 2014. It will be Bhag Mukul Bhag in 2015 and it will be Bhag Mamata Bhag in 2016,” Singh told a news channel later.
The TMC chief also announced that her party would be beside those who will fight BJP at all India level. “No one is untouchable,” she said.
Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Surjya Kanta Mishra, demanded immediate interrogation of the Chief Minister including others in the Saradha scam.
“Mamata Banerjee should be quizzed immediately in the Saradha scam,” Mishra, a CPI(M) Politburo member, demanded.
Congress leader Abdul Mannan demanded that Banerjee give an explanation for Mitra’s arrest and put in her papers.