Bengal CM on Dharna to ‘Save Constitution’, Opposition Unites in Support
| Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief, IOP, Kolkata - 03 Feb 2019


By Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief, Indian Observer Post

Kolkata, Feb 03, 2019: A CBI team's surprise raid on the Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar's house triggered a big political tussle between Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP Govt in the Centre and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal Govt on Sunday.

A scuffle reportedly broke out between the state police force and the CBI team after they raided Rajeev Kumar, the Commissioner of Police's residence. The Kolkata Police sought a warrant from the CBI team and failure of which led to the adverse measures. Around five CBI officials were been detained but had later been released.

This unprecedented event unfolded in Kolkata after the CBI raided Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar's residence in the evening over allegations of his alleged involvement in chit fund scams in the state, following which the Kolkata Police detained the Central Bureau of Investigation team, who were later released.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation and met the West Bengal Director General of Police. It is believed that the case involves Rose Valley and Sarada chit fund scams.

Immediately after this incident, the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna to "Save the Constitution" this evening after a huge showdown between the police and officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation and lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.

The CBI wanted to quiz Kolkata police Chief Rajeev Kumar on two Ponzi schemes, over which several leaders of the TMC party have been arrested. Five CBI officials, who turned up at Mr Kumar's home, were taken to a local police station and allegedly detained.

"How dare you come to a Police Commissioner's home without a warrant," Banerjee furiously demanded, accusing the BJP-led central government of trampling over people's constitutional rights.

Various leaders of the opposition parties rallied in support of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who sat in protest at Metro Channel area in central Kolkata. 

Leading the opposition's onslaught was Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav, who said the state government had to take the move due to the "political decisions" the CBI had been taking at the behest of the BJP.

"For the past few months, the CBI, under pressure of the BJP office, had been taking political decisions, forcing state governments to take such decisions. If the CBI continues to work as an alliance partner of the BJP, it won't be surprising if the people take matters into their own hand. Nobody is above the people in democracy," he tweeted.

"Because of BJP government's exploitative policies and CBI's brazen political misuse, the constitution and the people's independence are in peril. Hence, we completely support Mamata Banerjee's dharna. People and the opposition of the country are united to defeat the BJP in elections," Samajwadi party chief Akhilesh Yadav tweeted.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said the incident was an example of how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are "destroying institutions".

Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha was quick to slam the government for the showdown in Kolkata. "The Prime Minister is determined to destroy all the institutions of democracy. Now he is destroying the federal structure of our country. Wake up and stop it before it is too late," he tweeted.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien alleged that the BJP was planning a "constitutional coup".

The CBI wanted to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar as there was proof that he was instrumental in causing destruction of evidence in the chit fund scam, Interim Central Investigative Agency Chief M Nageshwar Rao alleged on Sunday night. Rao told ANI that the CBI is investigating the chit-fund cases as per the direction of the Supreme Court.

A SIT was constituted by the West Bengal government prior to the orders of the Supreme Court under the chairmanship of Rajeev Kumar.

“They (police) have taken charge of the evidence and have seized the documents and compact discs. They are not cooperating with us in handing over the seized documents," Rao told. He added that several orders were sent to Kumar seeking the evidence in the case but the Kolkata Police Commissioner did not cooperate.

“Our notices have gone on deaf years. The state police are not cooperating; they are trying to harass the CBI officials by various means. This was brought to the notice of the Supreme Court, which advised the state authority to cooperate. In the meantime whatever investigation we could do. There is evidence against him (Rajeev Kumar), he has been instrumental in causing destruction of evidence and obstructing justice," he said.

In an unprecedented development, the West Bengal police prevented the CBI from arresting its top cop and detained five officials of the central investigative agency, leading to high drama here on Sunday.

The development marks a face-off between the Mamata Banerjee government and the Centre, adding a new dimension to the already bitter relations.

"We had enough and relevant documents we are a professional institution we did not get any support from state police we are unnecessary detained," a CBI official who was detained said. Kolkata Para Military forces were also pressed into action at the CBI office here.

Earlier, CM Mamata Banerjee and Kolkata Police condemned reports that arrest of Kolkata Police Commissioner by CBI was imminent. Kolkata Police also warned of legal action against defamatory statements;

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday hit back following reports in the media that arrest of the Calcutta Police Commissioner was imminent.

“The Kolkata Police Commissioner is among the best in the world. His integrity, bravery and honesty are unquestioned. He is working 24x7, and was on leave for only one day recently. When you spread lies, the lies will always remain lies,” the Chief Minister tweeted. She also lashed out at the BJP and said, “The highest levels of the BJP leadership are doing the worst kind of political vendetta. Not only are political parties their targets, they are misusing power to take control of the police and destroy all institutions. We condemn this.”

Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, believed to enjoy the confidence of the West Bengal Chief Minister, had been summoned on several occasions for interrogation, these CBI sources claimed, but he had ignored the summons and had failed to turn up.

Kolkata Police also issued the following statement on Sunday and warned of ‘strict legal action’ against defamatory news. The statement, which was posted on Kolkata Police’s Twitter handle stated:

“We have noticed a news item doing the rounds of various audiovisual, print, and digital media since Saturday, 02.02.19, to the effect that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is 'looking for' Shri Rajeev Kumar, Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, in connection with the Sarada chit fund cases. The news item also mentions that Shri Rajeev Kumar has not been attending office for three days. Kolkata Police condemns and denies such baseless news. Please take note that not only is the CP Kolkata available in the city, but has also been attending office on a regular basis, with the exception of 31.1.19, when he was on leave for a day.”

The opposition's barbs were returned with equal intensity by BJP lawmaker Babul Supriyo.

“President’s Rule should be imposed on West Bengal to control this ‘Rogue’ #TMchhi Govt under a corrupt CM Mamta Banerjee. This is a constitutional crisis ‘created’ by Mamta to shield her corrupt & tainted accomplices.”

Another BJP leader, Kailash Vijayvargiya called the confrontation a "murder of democracy."

BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao reacted to the confrontation, alleging Ms Banerjee was protecting the corrupt.

A bitter turf battle is on between the BJP and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress for the last few months. While Ms Banerjee is currently leading the anti-BJP block of opposition parties, her government in West Bengal recently blocked BJP's planned political procession.

Ms Banerjee on January 19 organised a rally of opposition leaders, in which she attacked the Modi government. "Just because I organised a United India rally, they are doing all this. Amit Shah and PM Modi are doing all they can to target us," she said today.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was scheduled to address the "Ganatantra Bachao Rally" at Balurghat in South Dinajpur district, more than 400 km from Kolkata, could not attend the rally after permission was denied for his chopper to land near the venue.

(DIDHITI GHOSH is a psychologist, journalist, script-writer, professor and a certified conference interpreter of the Spanish language. She is the Bureau Chief of INDIAN OBSERVER POST based in Kolkata. Contact:

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