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regular-article-logo Thursday, 20 June 2024

They found nothing and seized nothing: Mahua Moitra on CBI raid in cash-for-query probe

The premises searched were her parents' apartment in Alipore (Calcutta), her election campaign office in Krishnanagar and her office-cum-residence in Karimpur (both in Nadia)

Kinsuk Basu Calcutta Published 24.03.24, 06:12 AM
Central force personnel guard the rented office of Mahua Moitra at Siddheswaritala in Nadia's Krishnanagar on Saturday afternoon.

Central force personnel guard the rented office of Mahua Moitra at Siddheswaritala in Nadia's Krishnanagar on Saturday afternoon. Picture by Pranab Debnath

Teams of CBI officials on Saturday raided multiple addresses linked to Trinamul leader Mahua Moitra in connection with a probe into the cash-for-query allegations against the expelled MP.

The premises searched were her parents' apartment in Alipore (Calcutta), her election campaign office in Krishnanagar and her office-cum-residence in Karimpur (both in Nadia).

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The CBI operation came within 48 hours of the central agency drawing up an FIR against Mahua on the Lokpal’s directions on Thursday. The agency had recently submitted its preliminary findings in the matter before the Lokpal.

"I have not seen the copy of the FIR, nor has it been uploaded. They, however, came with a search warrant at my parents' home,” Mahua told The Telegraph.

“They were there for five hours in the presence of my mother. They found nothing and seized nothing."

Mahua added: “The team went to my permanent MP office and temporary election office and also found nothing. Then they went to my Karimpur office. You can imagine what all this means during the time of the election. Each time they do such things, votes in favour of me will go up.”

She later posted a message on X, accompanied by a picture of her and fellow party candidate SayaniGhosh looking through binoculars, saying: “The CBI came home & to my election offices today. Were very polite. Searched. Found nothing. Meanwhile @sayani06 & I still searching for BJP candidates against us.”

Mahua, who had persistently questioned Modi’s purported ties with Adani in Parliament, was expelled from the Lok Sabha after its ethics committee held her guilty of “unethical conduct” and “serious misdemeanours”.

The then Krishnanagar MP had been accused by BJP member Nishikant Dubey of asking questions in Parliament in exchange for cash and gifts from businessman Darshan Hiranandani.

Trinamul, which has fielded Mahua from Krishnanagar this time too, condemned the raids and accused the Centre of misusing its investigating agencies to target the Opposition. The Congress termed it vendetta politics.

The BJP said the narrative of political vendetta had become hackneyed and that the party didn’t decide how the central agencies would carry out their investigations.

Around 10.30am, a team of CBI officers including a woman had turned up at Ratnabali, a multi-storey building in Judges Court Road, Alipore, looking for Dwaipendra Lal Moitra, Mahua’s father.

The security guard told them the Moitras lived in an apartment on the ninth floor and added that Mahua’s father was not in.

The CBI team took the elevator to the apartment and questioned Mahua’s mother Manju Moitra besides looking for documents and other electronic “evidence”.

Another CBI team visited Mahua’s election office at Siddheswaritala in Krishnanagar, nearly 119km north of Calcutta, in the afternoon accompanied by central forces personnel.

The five-member agency team entered the office, where Trinamul workers gather for election meetings and discussions, and carried out searches while letting no one enter.

The team later drove to Karimpur, about 66km from Krishnanagar, and searched Mahua’s office-cum-residence, CBI sources said.

There was no official word from the CBI about the day’s development. Agency insiders said they wanted to collect documents relating to the cash-for-query allegations and ascertain whether there were any overseas financial transactions.

Trinamul general secretary Kunal Ghosh said: “The party is completely behind Mahua. The BJP was desperate to ensure that Mahua was out of Parliament because she was raising questions about financial irregularities. The same script is now being played out, this time by engaging the CBI.”

Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said: “This has little to do with fighting corruption and more with the BJP’s revenge policy.”

State BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said: “Whenever the ED or the CBI raid TMC leaders, they cry foul and accuse them of being politically motivated. Whatever Moitra has done is a shame for democracy. The TMC is mired in corruption.”

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