TMC seeks time-bound probe in money laundering case against Bengal minister

West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee being produced at a court after he was arrested by ED officials in connection with its investigation into the teacher recruitment scam, in Kolkata, Saturday, July 23, 2022. PHOTO: PTI

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Sunday demanded a time-bound investigation in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case against arrested Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee, while asserting the party will not interfere politically if any leader was found to have done anything wrong.

ED personnel had on July 22 carried out raids at various places in West Bengal as part of their probe into the money trail involved in a teacher recruitment scam at government-sponsored and -aided schools.

Crores of rupees in cash along with other items were allegedly recovered from the residence of a woman, who apparently happens to be a close associate of Chatterjee, the industries minister who earlier held the education portfolio, according to sources.

PTI could not independently verify the information.

Talking to reporters, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said that it had no connection with Arpita Mukherjee from whose possession the huge amount of cash was recovered.

"The party demands time-bound investigation in the case," he said, maintaining that investigations by central agencies in some cases have been going on for many years.

The CBI has been investigating the multi-crore Saradha chit fund case since 2014, while the Narada tapes case, which unfolded ahead of 2016 elections, was also yet to reach any conclusion.

Ghosh said that the delay in completion of probe processes was not acceptable and that opposition parties will use it as a tool to cast aspersions against the TMC.

"If the ED produces any proof of its allegations and the court accepts it, the TMC and the government will initiate steps against any leader, however big he may be," Ghosh said, adding that the law will take its own course.

Referring to some videos doing the rounds of Arpita at programmes that were also attended by Chatterjee and other ministers, authenticity of which has not been checked by PTI, the spokesperson insisted that many people from different walks of life attend political and social events.

Arpita Mukherjee, close aide of Partha Chatterjee, being produced at a court a day after she was arrested by ED in connection with its investigation into the teacher recruitment scam, in Kolkata, Sunday, July 24, 2022. PHOTO: PTI

"But this woman is in no way related to Trinamool Congress," he said about Mukherjee, who is also known to have acted in Bengali films.

"It is not a matter of TMC; it is the responsibility of those whose names have come up or their lawyer to speak on the issue, the party has no relation with it," Ghosh said.

'TMC leaders being targeted'

Alleging that TMC leaders were being targeted, he claimed that Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim was arrested by the CBI in 2021 in the Narada sting tapes case, but no action was taken against Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who is also an accused in the matter.

"Does it mean being in BJP makes one above the law?" he asked,

Training his guns on the CPI(M), the TMC spokesperson alleged that several irregularities were committed during the 34-year Left Front rule, but none received prominence as there were fewer media houses and no social media.

"You (CPIM) were no holy cow, it cannot be that you will attack TMC and it will take it like a sitting duck," he said.

Ghosh also accused the Congress of double standards, claiming that it appreciated the ED in West Bengal, and attacked the same agency when leaders Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi are questioned.

The Calcutta High Court has directed the CBI to inquire into recommendations by the state's School Service Commission (SSC) vide which alleged illegal appointments were given by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education in government-run and -aided schools. The ED is tracking the money trail.

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