KOLKATA: Narada TV CEO Matthew Samuel has claimed in a mailed reply to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that the Narada sting operation was conducted on the directions and sponsorship of Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Kanwar Deep Singh.
Samuel has however clarified he was unaware that Singh belonged to the Trinamool Congress.
Kanwar Deep Singh is the president of the Indian Hockey Federation and owns a majority stake in the investigative magazine, Tehelka, for which Samuel had initially done the sting. Singh had stepped down as the Chairman of the Alchemist Group in 2012 to foray into politics.
Samuel also claimed that Singh had paid him Rs 80 lakh for the sting. However, despite completing the story before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it never appeared in the Tehelka.
Samuel quit the organisation a year later along with the footages. He launched his own news channel in 2016 and released the sting operation just before the West Bengal Assembly elections.
A total of 12 Trinamool ministers and leaders have been caught accepting bribe in the sting. The CBI had mailed 12 questions to Samuel who is recovering from illness in Kochi, Kerala. Sources revealed he has answered all the questions.
On the other hand, sources close to the CBI have revealed that the one hour-long unpublished sting footage has been transcribed and the central agency is ready to prepare the draft report.
Sources revealed the unpublished footage shows three top Trinamool leaders separately bragging about their links with the Saradha chit fund scam and how they benefitted the chit fund companies in lieu of hefty bribes. It also shows them telling Samuel to pay a similar bribe and get his work done.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal state government was unable to file the petition on the Narada scam probe at the Supreme Court on Tuesday due to a technical fault and was asked to file it on Wednesday.
Opposition parties Congress and CPM have pounced on Trinamool Congress after the Calcutta High Court directed the CBI to probe the Narada sting operation. While Om Prakash Mishra of the Congress demanded that those involved in the scam be arrested and removed from their post, CPM’s Surya Kanta Mishra suggested that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee should also be interrogated.