All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)’s founder member and once West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s right hand Mukul Roy has joined BJP but can a tainted leader help the party in a state, where, despite its consistent efforts, it has not been able to make much inroads, especially when Mamata Banerjee has been able to cultivate an image of an honest politician and is looking invincible at the moment.
CBI INVESTIGATION AGAINST MUKUL ROY
CBI is investigating the fallout of a sting operation conducted by Narada News which showed many AITC leaders accepting bribes on camera. The sting was released just before the 2016 West Bengal assembly election.
CBI earlier this year took over the case after the Calcutta High Court order on March 17 and filed FIR on April 17 where it named 13 persons including AITC ministers and MPs Mukul Roy, Madan Mitra, Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmed and Kakoli Ghosh for criminal conspiracy and corruption. Other Trinamool leaders named in the FIR are Subhendu Adhikari, Iqbal Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee, Subhendu Adhikari, Sovan chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee and Syed Hussain Meerza.
CBI filed cases under IPC Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) and under Sections 7 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) which deal with corruption and criminal misconduct of public servants.
ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE INVESTIGATION
Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating the Narada case. After CBI filed FIR in the case, ED also registered a case under Section 4 of the Prevention of the Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED has already interrogated Kakoli Ghosh, Saugata Roy, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Sovan Chatterjee and has reportedly summoned Mukul Roy.
Incidentally, CBI also interrogated Mukul Roy in another Ponzi scam, the Saradha case, in January 2015 after which he was sidelined in the party.
MAMATA LOOKS INVINCIBLE IN WEST BEGAL
Though troubled by Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley, another chit-fund scam which saw AITC MP Sudip Bandopadhyay arrested, Mamata’s electoral victories say the aftermath of the scams has not dented her image. Her popularity, in fact, has grown if we go by the election results.
The Saradha scam was unearthed in 2013, the Rose Valley case made headlines in 2014-15 and the Narada sting was aired in 2016, just before the state assembly election and yet Mamata’s party went on to better her tally, winning 211 seats in the 294-member strong West bengal assembly with a vote share of 45 per cent. The 2016 landslide came after yet another brilliant electoral show by the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha election where it had won 34 of 42 seats in the state with a vote share of 39.40 per cent.
These were impressive gains over Mamata’s maiden victory in the state in 2011, especially in the aftermath of major scams that saw many leaders of her party implicated and some even jailed. AITC had won 184 seats with a 39 per cent vote share in the 2011 assembly election ending over three decades of the Left Front rule in the state.
On the contrary, BJP could win just three seats in the last assembly polls while the party had failed to open its account in 2011. Though it had stunned everyone by cornering a 17 per cent vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, from just 4 per cent in 2011 assembly election and 6 per cent in 2009 Lok Sabha election, it came down to 10 per cent in 2016. Also, we need to take this into account that in spite of the Narendra Modi wave, BJP was able to win just two Lok Sabha seats from the state.