CBI serves notice to Rujira Banerjee, wife of Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, in coal theft case

Published : February 21, 2021 21:50 IST

Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool Congress MP and nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during a roadshow at Sonarpur in South 24 Paraganas district, on February 13. Photo: PTI

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), anti-corruption branch, has served a notice to Rujira Banerjee, wife of Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP and nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The notice, served on February 21, is in connection with a ‘coal theft’ case registered on November 27, 2020. The notice said, “…the CBI team will visit… You are hereby requested to remain present on 21.02.2021 at 15.00hrs at the above-mentioned address for the purpose of answering certain questions relating to the case".

However, the questioning could not take place as Rujira Banerjee was not present at the given address. Earlier, the CBI had conducted raids in a number of locations in the State in connection with the coal smuggling case.

The Trinamool is viewing the development as ‘political vendetta’ on the part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre. Reacting to the CBI notice, Abhishek Banerjee said on social media: “At 2pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down.”

Earlier in the day, Mamata Banerjee had also put up a defiant stance, although she did not directly mention the CBI notice. “Do not try to bully us or scare us with the threat of prison. We who have fought against guns, why should we be scared of fighting with rats and little mice? There is no reason to feel scared…. As long as there is life in me, I will not be cowed down by bullying,” said Mamata.

Interestingly, two days earlier, on February 19, a designated MP/MLA court in West Bengal issued summons to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to appear before it either personally or through a representative on February 22, in connection with a defamation case filed by Abhishek Banerjee.

Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh alleged that the CBI notice was in retaliation to the case filed by Abhishek. “Amit Shah has been summoned by the court on February 22. In order to malign (Abhishek Banerjee) before that, this thing has been done. If the CBI is indeed impartial then the CBI should arrest Mukul Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sovan Chatterjee in connection with the Saradha and the Narada cases,” said Kunal. He was referring to the multi-crore Saradha money collection scam, and the sting operation carried out by news portal Narada News in which several top Trinamool leaders were seen accepting cash on camera, including Mukul Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sovan Chatterjee, who were at that time with the Trinamool but later switched to the BJP.

The opposition parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress, did not lose the opportunity to attack the ruling party following the latest development. Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “We have often pointed out about the accumulation of illegal wealth. Where did the cars with blackened windows go from Asansol (a coal belt region in Bengal)? To which address? The State police knows all about this. The State Home Minister (Mamata) should have ordered an investigation on this. But she did not do it. If the State police had done its job properly, then the CBI would not have got this opportunity. We want the CBI to conduct the case properly and catch the culprits, and not be used politically.”

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is also Leader of the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha, said, “Those who have received notice should cooperate with the CBI, and the CBI should also work in an impartial manner…. We cannot support the manner in which Bengal is being looted.”