He was quizzed for more than eight hours, but when he came out of the Enforcement Directorate office in Delhi on Monday, Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee launched a searing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party. He said that his wife will not be able to come down to the national capital on Tuesday because the couple have a young baby, though if the ED wants it can quiz her in Kolkata.
The TMC leader, nephew of party chairperson and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, had been summoned by the central agency in a money laundering case linked to an alleged coal scam in the state. He has repeatedly stated that the BJP government at the Centre was using the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to target the TMC, unable to accept the defeat in the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls. Central agencies have been focusing on several people connected to Trinamool in connection with coal and cattle smuggling cases.
Politics over the issue is picking up pace ahead of bypolls for the Asansol Lok Sabha and Ballygunge assembly seats in Bengal on April 12.
“Are cattle small insects? Who is guarding them? This should be called the home minister scam because he is at the helm of affairs guarding the collieries. If something happens, you blame the opposition? The coal border falls under the home ministry. It’s their scam. They have called me for the second time. I have cooperated with the questioning. I am not scared. I am made of a different material. If they think that by doing all this I will bow down, they are living in a fool’s paradise,” Abhishek Banerjee said on Monday.
The Diamond Harbour MP and his wife Rujira Banerjee on Monday also approached the Supreme Court, challenging the summons issued to them by the ED for appearance in Delhi in connection with the money laundering probe.
The TMC leader had said previously too that coal and cattle scams can only take place with the involvement of central government officials.
Abhishek also targeted BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, a TMC turncoat, on corruption allegations without naming him. “The BJP is a washing machine. People have been seen taking money on camera; they are not called for questioning because they are in the BJP,” he said.
He also asked why ED and CBI raids do not take place in BJP-ruled states.
Sources say that Abhishek was quizzed about former TMC leader Vinay Mishra who is one of the accused, about some accounts, and some documents that he has said he will provide.
He was previously questioned in September for nine hours. After that, he moved court, challenging the jurisdiction of the ED. On March 11, the Delhi High Court dismissed his plea. The couple has now appealed to the SC.
BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “The BJP has never done politics of vendetta. If he has a problem, he can go to the court.”