Political Signals from the Mamata-CBI Clashtext_fields
A full-fledged drama unrolled on Sunday evening when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) decided to send off 40 CBI officials to question the commissioner of Kolkata Police, apparently without any prior notice or documents to question the officer's role in allegedly tampering evidence in the chit fund case.
CP Rajeev Kumar had headed the state-appointed special investigating team for the Sharda and Rose Valley Chit Fund scam, which has become the albatross for the Mamata Banerjee led TMC government in Bengal.
Controversy broke when CBI official said that Kumar had gone missing, an allegation that Kolkata Police has vehemently refuted. In a press statement, Kolkata Police said, “Please take note that not only is the CP Kolkata available in the city but has also been attending office on a regular basis with the exception of January 31, 2019, when he was on leave for a day. All concerned may please take note that if any news is spread without proper verification, Kolkata Police will initiate strict legal action against defamation of both the CP Kolkata and Kolkata Police.”
This move of the CBI move led to a faceoff between the state police and the CBI, especially when the officials of the investigating agency were whisked off by the Kolkata police team in local police vehicles. What followed was chaos and drama, as the state police detained the police officials for a few hours.
Following that, CM Mamata Banerjee, herself came on to the spot – residence of Rajeev Kumar to address the media where she declared that whatever was happening in Bengal was a political vendetta. “We had organized the United Opposition Rally in January. Since then we are being targeted by both Modi and Shah.” She further added that the central government was doing its best to break the federal set up, as it is trying to control the media, police and even the governor houses. She maintained that her fight is to preserve the democracy of the country, following which she has been sitting at the metro channel.
Legality of Mamata’s Satyagrah
CBI, which had been trying to meet the Bengal governor the previous night itself, on Monday morning, raised the issue at the apex court, which agreed to hear the case on Tuesday and not on Monday afternoon, as requested by the CBI.
However, according to experts the Calcutta High Court has restrained the CBI’s ability to summon the police chief.
Many are questioning the state government’s move to violate the SC direction, to cooperate, with the investigating agency. The WB State Police had even written to the CBI offering full cooperation till the CBI issued summons under section 60 of the Criminal Penal Code, following which the state moved the issue to Calcutta High Court, which kept the summons in abeyance.
What led to CBI Vs Mamata?
CP Rajeev Kumar missing the January 30, 2019 meeting with the election commission had set the rumour mill churning that the CP was absconding as CBI was looking for him in connection with the Rose valley and Sharda Ponzi scams. Following which KP even released a press note stating that the CP was very much on duty.
Following this, a 40-member CBI team landed+ at Kumar’s residence, which led to the immediate political crisis. However, most believe that the friction between the Centre and state had been widening with the state government continually denying permit for BJP to execute its much hyped strings of rallies across Bengal.
Recently, the permission for Amit Shah’s helicopter to land in Malda was denied. Shah, however, went on to hold one such rally in Malda. The permission for UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s helicopter to land in Uttar Dinajpur had also been denied.
Most political observers believe that all this added on to the mega success of the historic Brigade rally on January 19 which has led to present crisis, where a sitting chief minister is sitting under the sky to protest against the centre.
Metro Channel is the place from where Mamata Banerjee came into limelight and power. It was here that she sat on an indefinite hunger strike to show her solidarity with the farmers of Singur. It in a way paved her path of victory to decimate the invincible CPI-M in Bengal and coming into power.
Mamata, since the previous night has stayed put at the spot. She has also been performing her duties from there. She not just addressed a farmers' meet via video conferencing from a make-shift office in the protest area, but has also conducted a cabinet meeting in there, so that in her absence, Mayor Firhad Hakim can bring in the state budget in the state assembly.