Kolkata: Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the National General Secretary of Trinamool Congress, launched a scathing attack on Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP after he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in Kolkata for almost eight hours as part of the coal smuggling probe. “BJP claims that the leader of another party is a ‘Pappu’. But in reality, Amit Shah himself is the biggest ‘Pappu’. He just cannot do politics without using (Central) agencies,” he said.
Slamming the minister and his son Jay Shah who is Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary, Banerjee said, “The father is trying to teach nationalism to the nation but his son refused to touch the national flag after India recently defeated Pakistan.”
“The federal agencies are being used only against parties opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) so that governments in non-BJP ruled states can be removed without fighting political battles,” he said. He named, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra as examples.
Banerjee alleged that about eight months ago, opposition leader in Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, had a telephonic conversation with TMC’s former youth leader and businessman Vinay Mishra, one of the prime accused in the coal scam.
“A journalist has that audio and I have listened to it. Adhikari assured the accused that nothing would happen to him. Let Adhikari file a defamation suit against me for saying this. I will place the audio tape before the court,” said Banerjee. He also asked why Adhikari was not questioned in the Saradha and Narada cases despite, being a suspect in both. However, Adhikari said Banerjee made a bogus claim about him calling up Mishra.
“Let him first say to which bank account in Bangkok was the money from coal smuggling deposited and who is the account holder,” said Adhikari.
Banerjee said: “Why have the agencies questioned me and my wife (Rujira Banerjee) six times? The borders though which cattle smuggling took place are manned by the Border Security Force and coal mines are guarded by the Central Industrial Security Force. Both are under the Union home minister. He received the proceeds from smuggling. These operations could not have taken place without active participation of BSF and CISF.”
“Rajnath Singh was home minister till 2018. Why has he not been questioned yet?” Banerjee said.
While ED officials said Banerjee didn’t answer most of the questions, the Lok Sabha member said: “I cooperated with the agency but the net result of this questioning is zero.”
Banerjee said: “Nisith Pramanik (Lok Sabha member from Cooch Behar) was accused of cow theft. We expelled him and BJP made him Union minister of state for home affairs. Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son was charged with killing five farmers in Uttar Pradesh. This is how the BJP is running the country.”
“I will see where this ends. Arrest me if you want to. The TMC will emerge as a stronger party. You think other parties will bow before you on the face of threat. TMC is made of a different metal. We are fighting the BJP, the Election Commission of India, the federal agencies and a section of the judiciary and the media,” Banerjee claimed.
“I am sorry to say this but had the judiciary been completely neutral, many of these elements (in BJP) would be nowhere today. I can be charged with contempt of court for saying this. Let it be,” said Banerjee.
The CBI had registered the coal smuggling case in November 2020. It is alleged that the illegally mined coal, worth thousands of crores of rupees, was sold by a racket operating in the western parts of West Bengal, where the Eastern Coalfields Limited runs several mines. It is alleged that proceeds from the coal trade went to political leaders.
The ED filed its first chargesheet in the coal smuggling case at a special court in Delhi in August last year, naming Vinay Mishra’s brother, Vikas, and former officer-in-charge of Bankura police station, Ashok Mishra, as prime accused. The chargesheet did not mention Abhishek Banerjee. Eight Indian Police Service (IPS) officers posted in West Bengal were recently summoned to Delhi by the ED for questioning.
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