NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: In the end, it was a tie. While the CBI got the right to question Kolkata Commissioner of Police Rajeev Kumar from the Supreme Court in a ponzi scam, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, by playing the victim card, enhanced her stature as an opposition leader ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. And Kumar got the SC’s protection against his arrest by the CBI.
While the Union home ministry wants Kumar penalised for participating in Mamata’s dharna that began on Sunday, disciplinary action can be taken only by the state government, which is on his side. Also, hours after the Union home ministry directed the state government to crack the whip against him, the chief minister shot back: “Rajeev Kumar never joined the dharna with me. It’s a lie.”
The Supreme Court on Tuesday while directing Kumar to appear before the CBI and fully cooperate in the investigation related to the Saradha chit fund scam, set Shillong as the neutral venue for his questioning on dates determined by the probe agency.
The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi also asked West Bengal Chief Secretary, DGP and Kumar to respond to the CBI’s contempt petition by February 19.
Mamata got to make an honourable exit, as she called off her dharna, treating the SC bar on coercive action against Kumar as a moral victory. “We got justice from one of the most important democratic institutions of our country. This dharna is a victory for the people, country, democracy and Constitution,” she claimed.
But Union minister Ravishankar Prasad saw the Supreme Court order directing Kumar to make himself available before the CBI as “a blow to the Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal and a moral victory for the investigating agency”.
While Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the SC bench that the blocking of CBI officials outside the Kolkata police chief’s residence on Sunday indicated a breakdown of constitutional machinery, Kumar’s counsel AM Singhvi said it is was an attempt to harass and humiliate him to score political points.
Didi, Naidu vow to take fight to Delhi
Mamata Banerjee called off her dharna on Tuesday claiming “moral victory” after the Supreme Court directive. Speaking to the media at the dharna site at Metro Channel here, she said: “I have decided to end the dharna today after discussion with heads of 23 political parties as the Supreme Court gave the judgment in our favour. We got justice from one of the most important democratic institutions of our country. This dharna is a victory for the people, country, democracy and constitution.”
“However, we will take this fight to Delhi and hold dharna there on February 13 and 14. We will not give up this fight till we succeed in removing Narendra Modi from power,” she added.
The decision was taken after Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav met her on Tuesday. Naidu claimed that he had authorised by the chiefs of 23 opposition parties to urge Mamata to withdraw the dharna. “We have to save the country from the dictatorial hands... We will take this fight to Delhi to its logical end,” he said.
Mamata also brought to the fore a 2013 letter by Saradha scam kingpin Sudipta Sen in which he allegedly said that BJP leader and Assam Deputy CM Himanta Biswa Sarma had taken `3 crore from him.
Denying the allegation, Sarma tweeted: “The frivolous & baseless campaign by Didi against me is very painful....I have joined the investigations and offered full cooperation.”