The Trinamul Congress will suffer a major blow ahead of panchayat polls next year if Anubrata Mondal is shifted to Delhi for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Sources said the ruling party was trying to put its best foot forward to stop the ED from taking Mondal to Delhi for questioning in the multi-crore cattle smuggling case.
“We are planning to move Delhi High Court against the order of Rouse Avenue court in Delhi. We have even more options like moving the Supreme Court. The order against Anubrata Mondal should be seen in the backdrop of a section of BJP leaders threatening to send our leaders to Tihar jail in Delhi,” said Malay Mukherjee, a Trinamul vice-president in Birbhum and a lawyer.
“Our legal team in Delhi has already started working on the option of moving a higher court,” he added.
Trinamul leaders said the court’s order to take him to Delhi was undoubtedly a blow to the party ahead of the rural polls as it would create a grave impact on the party’s organisation in Birbhum.
The leaders said as Mamata Banerjee and other honchos of the party always stood by Mondal, the court’s decision would give fresh ammunition to the Opposition to attack Trinamul.
“Unlike former minister Partha Chatterjee, Mondal has not been removed as the party’s Birbhum district chief even after his arrest by the CBI. If he is taken to Delhi for interrogation, it will be difficult for the party to keep him in the post. It will also be a challenge for the party to find his replacement ahead of the rural polls,” said a senior Trinamul leader in Calcutta.
Sources said Trinamul would also face a challenge to counter the Opposition, especially the BJP that had been threatening action against “corrupt” Trinamul leaders. “Let Anubrata spend his days in Tihar jail now... not only Anubrata but all those involved in graft would have to go to Delhi,” BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said after the court’s order.
Birbhum is considered a stronghold of Trinamul in central Bengal since the party came to the power in 2011.
“It had also been noticed that some local leaders were aspiring to achieve greater control of certain areas after Mondal’s arrest. If he moves to Delhi, these local leaders will become more active. Even from jail, he had a tight leash on these leaders. This will not be possible if he goes to Tihar jail,” said a Trinamul leader.
According to a senior Trinamul leader, there is doubt whether national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee would allow Mondal to continue as the district president once he is taken to Delhi.