Mamata Banerjee-CBI face-off 'orchestrated': Shiv Sena attacks Centre

A Sena article in its mouthpiece -Saamana - said the present Mamata-CBI face-off is orchestrated by Centre for political gains.

Mamata Banerjee-CBI face-off 'orchestrated': Shiv Sena attacks Centre

MUMBAI: Taking a swipe at the ruling BJP, its estranged ally Shiv Sena on Tuesday attacked the Narendra Modi government over the ongoing face-off between the West Bengal government and the CBI, saying that was "orchestrated" for political gains in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

The Sena made these critical observations in a fiery editorial written in party mouthpiece -Saamana - in which it said that what was happening in Kolkata was a "threat to democracy".

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been on a sit-in protest since Sunday night against the CBI's move to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in chit fund scam cases.

The TMC leader said that her agitation to save the "Constitution and country" will go on and she was ready to face any consequences.

The Maharashtra-based party said that the Centre could have acted against the Kolkata Police chief two months back and the CBI should have carried proper summons before visiting his house to question him.

"No one involved in the Saradha chit fund scam should be spared, but how does the CBI look at the 'cheat India' matter which has been going on for the last four-and-a-half years," the Uddhav Thackeray-led party remarked.

Without elaborating its point, it said Narendra Modi should look into the crisis in West Bengal as a Prime Minister of the country and not as a leader of the BJP.

The Sena claimed that the BJP was going to fall short of 100 Lok Sabha seats from north India to Maharashtra (in the west) in the Lok Sabha polls.

"To fill the gap, the BJP has laid its hopes on states like West Bengal to win 10 to 15 seats... All this (the all-out war between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government) is being orchestrated with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls," said the Sena, which is an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra.

The Sena said the first trigger of the 'BJP versus Mamata Banerjee conflict came in the form her opposition to BJP president Amit Shah's rath yatra in West Bengal.

Later, senior BJP leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's chopper was denied permission to land in West Bengal for a rally, and he was forced to address the gathering via an audio link, it pointed out.

"We do have our differences with Mamata Banerjee and her party, but she is, indeed, hitting back at the Centre with equal force," the Sena remarked. 

Amid fast-paced developments in the matter, the Supreme Court directed the Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to make himself available before the CBI for questioning in chit fund case and asked him to fully in the agency's probe.

In its order, the top court said that no coercive steps, including the arrest of Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar, will take place. 

The top court also directed the West Bengal chief secretary, DGP, Kolkata Police commissioner to file replies on contempt pleas moved by CBI against them. 

Replies in the contempt petition filed by CBI has to be placed by West Bengal chief secretary, DGP on or before February 18, the top court said.

The Supreme Court made these observations while hearing the pleas of the CBI in Saradha chit fund scam case alleging destruction of electronic evidence by the Kolkata Police commissioner.

Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal opened the argument on behalf of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), alleging destruction of evidence in the chit fund scam case.

The Kolkata Police has provided doctored call data records, the AG said.

He also said Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar was heading the SIT set up by the West Bengal government to probe the case.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kumar alleged that the CBI's action was meant to score points. 

The applications, accusing the Kolkata Police chief of destroying evidence related to the case, has alleged that an extraordinary situation has arisen in which top police officials of the West Bengal Police are sitting on a dharna along with a political party in Kolkata.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been sitting on a dharna since Sunday, hailed the top court as ''a moral victory of the people of India and democracy.''. 

On Monday, she described her sit-in over the CBI's attempt to question Kolkata Police chief as a "non-political" protest. 

(With PTI Inputs)