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CBI arrests Bengal ministers in Narada scam, TMC says procedure not followed

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The clash between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Centre is all set to intensify with the arrest of two Bengal ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee by the CBI in connection with the Narada bribery case. Also, TMC MLA Madan Mitra has been also arrested by the CBI in the case.

The arrests infuriated West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who reached the CBI office in Kolkata and protested against the arrests claiming it was done without following due procedures. “The way they have been arrested without due procedure, CBI will have to arrest me also,” Banerjee said, according to TMC’s lawyer Anidya Raut.

Notably, the arrest of the TMC leaders was made after West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar granted permission to the central probe agency to prosecute the TMC leaders in the Narada bribery case. Apart from the three TMC leaders, former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee has been also arrested in the same case.

Central forces arrived at the homes of the ministers and two other leaders this morning and took them away. Meanwhile, TMC supporters pelted stones while protesting outside the CBI office, creating a ruckus at the heart of Kolkata, over the arrests of party leaders.

Sanction by Governor

The Assembly Speaker has to sanction the prosecution of MLAs. But in this case, the CBI did not ask the Bengal Assembly Speaker for sanction but approached the governor instead, in January. The governor said he had the authority to grant sanction not because the four leaders were MLAs but because they were ministers sworn in by him in 2011.

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Notably, all four were ministers in the previous Mamata Banerjee government when the Narada bribery tapes were shot in 2014. Out of the four, Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee are part of Mamata Banerjee’s new Cabinet after TMC’s thumping victory in the recently-concluded Assembly polls.

Narada bribery case

The Narada sting tapes which were made public before the West Bengal 2016 assembly elections claimed to have been shot in 2014. In the video ministers, MPs and MLAs were allegedly seen receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in lieu of promised favours. The Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the sting operation in March 2017.

TMC defeated BJP

The TMC and the BJP were at loggerheads even before the elections were declared. The BJP tried its best to clinch power in the state in the eight-phase elections, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah holding mega rallies.

However, the BJP failed in wooing the voters and Mamata Banerjee returned to power for the third time in a row. While the BJP was claiming that it will win 200 seats, it managed only 77 seats, of which two MLAs have already resigned. TMC won 213 seats out of the 292 seats where elections were held.

 

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