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Short-lived pat for CBI

New Delhi, June 16: The CBI today earned rare praise from Trinamul Congress Rajya Sabha MP Debabrata Bandyopadhyay, who called it a “civilised bureau of investigation” after an hour and a half of questioning over the travel expenses scandal.

“They (CBI officers) were very cordial and did not trouble me at all during the one and a half hour of questioning. I must say that the agency is a civilised bureau of investigation,” the former IAS officer said after coming out of the agency headquarters here.

However, Trinamul later tweeted on behalf of Bandyopadhyay: “After my meeting with CBI, I did not speak to the media. I have no comments to make on my meeting with the CBI today.”

On Friday, Trinamul had said the charge against its MP was part of a “political vendetta” by the BJP-led government.

“We strongly condemn this attitude of using the CBI with the motive of political vendetta against the main Opposition parties. In a democratic set-up, this is just not done,” Derek O’Brien, the party’s national spokesperson, had said in a statement.

“The new government assumed office a few weeks ago. We were expecting it to start with a positive outlook and take up a developmental agenda. However, we are shocked that a beginning has been made through rumour, and gossip and ‘plants’ in the media,” the statement added.

Earlier, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had dubbed the CBI “Congress Bureau of Investigation” during the UPA’s term.

Today, Bandyopadhyay arrived at the CBI office around 2pm. “I am innocent and told the CBI officials that the fraud could have been executed by the travel agents who booked (air) tickets on my behalf,” he said.

Asked about the questions he faced during the 90-minute session, he said: “That I cannot disclose.”

The CBI has accused Bandyopadhyay of inflating travel bills by Rs 1.26 lakh, submitting four tickets worth Rs 1.28 lakh to the Rajya Sabha for reimbursements while the actual expense was only Rs 2,000. The agency claimed five others — two sitting and three retired Rajya Sabha MPs — padded up expenses with such fake bills.

CBI sources said Bandyopadhyay was examined by senior officers of the anti-corruption wing.

“He was questioned relating to the fake travel bills he had furnished to claim reimbursement from the government. We also asked him about his bank account and other details. He was very co-operative. His statement has been recorded. If needed, we will ask him to appear again,” a senior officer said.

CBI DIG Vineeta Thakur added: “The Trinamul MP was examined today and the other accused will be questioned in the next few days when they reach the capital.”