It took the Trinamul Congress four days to expel its youth president of Hooghly district, Santanu Banerjee, after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the cash-for-jobs scam case in Bengal. The party also expelled Kuntal Ghosh, another TMC youth leader from the same district who was arrested by the agency 51 days ago in the same case.
This was the second set of disciplinary action taken against its leaders by the TMC in connection with the recruitment scam after it suspended former minister Partha Chatterjee from all positions in the party as well as remove him from offices in the state government.
In a press meet, addressed jointly by ministers Sashi Panja and Bratya Basu on Tuesday, the party announced its decisions a day after the ED submitted in court that the scam “is worth at least Rs 350 crores” and claimed that the mobile phone records of both accused are “gold mines” of information. The agency secured custody for Banerjee till 24 March.
The party, however, lashed out at the central agencies for “selectively targeting the Trinamul Congress” despite there being evidence of the opposition being involved in this and other instances of corruption. The party demanded a “thorough and fair investigation” which must be “concluded quickly to prevent unwarranted public maligning of Trinamul leaders".
“The money and property recovered by agencies were not found in the party office. Trinamul Congress will not take the blame for it. Individual people misusing the posts will have to justify their actions and the law must take its own course for them. Has BJP ever said the same for its leaders?,” said Sashi Panja.
“The investigation is being done by the CBI and ED based on the directives issued by the courts. The agencies should share whatever information they receive with the courts but it is coming out in public domain. This clearly shows an intention to malign the reputation of TMC leaders without any evidence. The party is being pushed into media trials repeatedly. This is why we emphasize on our demands for a time-bound investigation once again,” she added.
The TMC came out with a list of job losers who were allegedly given appointments based on references from political parties in opposition.
“As many as 55 people, appointed as per the instructions of Suvendu Adhikari, had their appointments cancelled by the court. According to the list, Adhikari had recommended 150 people for appointments. Adhikari’s aide Sanjib Sukul was on that list,” alleged Bratya Basu.
“These leaders are not being called for questioning even once but TMC leaders are being harassed and threatened. It is just Kafkaesque that despite taking steps against our leaders, we are consistently being maligned and targeted. Those whose appointments were cancelled by the court might have links to the TMC but some of these members also have links to BJP and CPI(M). Why is only the ruling party facing this selective targeting? Why aren’t others being called in for investigation?” Basu questioned.
In a sharp bit of sarcasm, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar called the TMC claim of not tolerating corruption "the biggest joke of the year".