West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials to arrest her as well, said Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Anindya Raut, after four people, including three current TMC leaders and a former party leader, were arrested by the agency on Monday in connection with the Narada sting operation case.
Banerjee, who also heads the TMC, arrived at the agency’s office at Nizam Palace in Kolkata, just minutes after the arrests of Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and Madan Mitra, along with former TMC leader Sovan Chatterjee, who is also a former mayor of Kolkata. Among these, Hakim and Mukherjee are sitting ministers in the West Bengal government headed by Banerjee, Mitra is an MLA, while Chatterjee joined the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019, but resigned after being denied a ticket by the BJP from his traditional assembly constituency Behala east for the recently-held assembly elections in the eastern state.
On May 9, exactly a week after the TMC emerged victorious as the counting of votes for the assembly elections was held, West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar gave the nod to prosecute the four accused in the case.
Reacting to the arrests, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh called it “illegal” and “undemocratic.” Meanwhile, Biman Banerjee, TMC leader and speaker of the West Bengal assembly, said, “CBI didn’t inform us. If they’ve been arrested, it is illegal. The prior permission of the legislative assembly speaker is required but was not taken.”
The BJP, which has a government at the Centre to which the CBI reports, said it has nothing to do with the arrests. “We have nothing to say. The BJP has nothing to do with this,” said state BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharjee.
Hakim, Mukherjee, Mitra and Chatterjee have been arrested under sections 120b of the IPC and sections 7 and 13(1)(a) 13(1)(b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. They will be produced in a court later in the day.
The case pertains to a series of videos uploaded by the Narada News portal in 2016, ahead of that year’s assembly elections. In the videos, several high-profile TMC leaders can be seen receiving money in exchange for favours to a fictitious company.