West Bengal

Setback for Mamata

Print edition : March 06, 2015

Mamata Banerjee. She says the probe is an act of vendetta. Photo: PTI

Srinjoy Bose, Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member. Photo: PTI

Mukul Roy, Trinamool Congress general secretary. Photo: PTI

FEBRUARY 5 is a day Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee may want to forget but cannot. On that day, the Supreme Court turned down the State government’s plea to monitor the ongoing probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the multi-crore Saradha scam and Mamata’s close aide Srinjoy Bose resigned his membership of the Rajya Sabha and the Trinamool Congress. Bose’s announcement came a day after he was released on bail following his arrest by the CBI in November 2014 in connection with the Saradha scam.

Facing the heat from the CBI investigation in the Saradha scam, in which four prominent Trinamool Congress leaders, including Cabinet Minister Madan Mitra, have been arrested, the State government alleged that the CBI was acting at the behest of the Centre and appealed to the apex court to monitor the investigation. The Bench comprising Justices T.S. Thakur and C. Nagappan rejected the State government’s plea. It also turned down the State’s request that the CBI be restrained from leaking information to the press. Interestingly, Congress leader and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal represented the State government, much to the outrage of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress, which is locked in a bitter political struggle with the Trinamool in the State.

Srinjoy Bose is the editor and proprietor of “Sangbad Pratidin”, a reputed Bengali daily that has all along been supportive of the Trinamool Congress government. Until his arrest on November 21, Bose was also the editor of “Jaago Bangla”, the mouthpiece of the ruling party. “During my days in custody I finally realised that politics is not my cup of tea,” Bose wrote in his resignation letter, citing pressure from his family, particularly his wife and mother, as the main reason for his decision. The resignation, though sudden, may have been on the cards for a while, as Bose was perceived to be distancing himself from the party.

If that was not enough, actress and Trinamool Congress member Locket Chatterjee, known to be a favourite of Mamata’s and often seen by her side at public functions, quit the party to join the BJP. Locket was also a member of the West Bengal Commission for Women.

Problems for Mamata and her government have been mounting for some time now, particularly with the CBI tightening its noose around the ruling party for its alleged complicity in the Saradha scam. The latest to be quizzed was Mukul Roy, the all India general secretary of the Trinamool and second in command in the party. After his first round of interrogation on January 30, Mukul appeared to deviate from the party line and emphasised that the “truth should come out” in the scam. The Trinamool's stand on the CBI investigation is that it is a political vendetta carried out by the BJP-led government at the Centre. Mukul’s words to the media led to speculation that a rift was imminent within the party.

Trinamool sources say the latest developments may not have any impact on the party—for neither Locket nor Srinjoy Bose were top-rung leaders—but it will certainly impair the sagging morale of the workers, as it gives the impression of the party breaking up under pressure.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay

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