Kolkata: In the week just gone by the virtually forgotten Narada sting video where several top leaders of the Trinamool Congress and one police officer were seen accepting cash against promises of doing favours in 2016 was suddenly resurrected in the minds of the people of West Bengal.
The resurrection was done by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by summoning Mathew Samuel, the man behind the sting operations, for questioning at the agency’s Nizam Palace office in central Kolkata on September 18.
As per information available from the CBI, Samuel has been called for questioning on discrepancies between his earlier statements given to the CBI in the matter and the findings of the central agency from the forensic report on Samuel’s mobile phone through which he conducted the sting operations.
Samuel’s stance on being summoned has sparked further speculation as he has set some conditions for appearing at the CBI office on Monday. This has surprised many people including the CBI officials since in the past Samuel has faced several rounds of questioning both in Kolkata as well as in Delhi without setting any condition.
The speculation was sparked off by the leader of opposition in the West Bengal assembly Suvendu Adhikari, who was one of the leaders seen in the sting videos accepting cash though as the then Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha member from Tamluk constituency in East Midnapore district.
The accusation made by Adhikari is that the Narada sting operation was masterminded by an influential insider in the Trinamool Congress to malign some party old- timers who were close to the chief minister then.
Adhikari has claimed that the funds for conducting the sting operations were provided by a businessman- turned- politician and a former Trinamool Congress
Rajya Sabha member as instructed by that influential insider.
Interestingly, in a recent conversation with mediapersons municipal affairs and urban development minister and the Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim, who was also seen in the sting video, expressed indirect approval of the point raised by Adhikari. “On the Narada sting issue the leader of the opposition has said it all,” Hakim said.
Another point raised by Adhikari is that while the ruling Trinamool Congress is going overboard demanding his arrest by the central agencies, why is it silent on the other leaders shown in the video who are still with the ruling camp. “I was seen in the video taking a packet. What is the proof that the packet contained cash?” Adhikari questioned.
Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee has said that let all the persons in the Narada sting video be arrested beginning with Suvendu Adhikari.
However, veteran Trinamool Congress leader and three- time Rajya Sabha member Saugata Roy, who was also among the leaders seen in the video, said that any arrest will be as per legal provisions only. “No one will be arrested if anyone just says it,” he said.
Political observers feel that the timing of the resurrection of the Narada sting video case by the CBI is significant considering that the Trinamool Congress is already under pressure by central agency probes in multiple cases of financial scams and money laundering.
“It seems that after completing the investigation in the main issue which is acceptance of money, the central agency is now trying to enter the ‘story behind the main story’, which is relating to the game plan and funding of such a costly sting operation. If that is the case and the central agency makes some significant revelations in the matter, then it is quite possible that the new political twist in Bengal in the coming days will not be that of the ‘ruling party versus opposition’ but that of the ‘ruling party versus ruling party’. The days ahead are likely to be more exciting and interesting,” said a veteran city- based analyst.
The Narada videos surfaced just before the 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls. It created a major political stir in the state and at one point of time; Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee even said that had she been aware of it, she would have denied tickets to those who were seen in the sting videos.