Kolkata, June 17 – West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday ordered a comprehensive probe into the Narada sting footage controversy, in which a number of Trinamool Congress leaders were allegedly shown receiving wads of currency notes.
“If anybody is guilty, he will be punished. I have asked the Chief Secretary to order a probe,” Banerjee told media-persons at the state secretariat Nabanna.
Chief Secretary Basudeb Banerjee said city Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar will conduct the inquiry.
“After the preliminary enquiry, there will be investigation. Then everything according to law will be done,” said the bureaucrat.
The Chief Minister said the probe will go into all aspects of the Narada sting issue, including whether there was a “controversy behind it” and try to find out all those who hatched it.
“Today I gave a note to the Chief Secretary to start a probe on the entire episode. We also discussed the matter threadbare. A controversy was stirred up by conducting the so-called sting. It was a provocation and conspiracy to create a hostile public reaction.”
“We want the truth to come out. We want to know who all were behind the sting. I have seen on a number of occasions attempts were made to defame Bengal. We don’t want that,” she said.
Carried out by a portal – Narada News – the sting caught on camera over a dozen Trinamool leaders including former union ministers, state cabinet heavyweights and MPs accepting money as “bribes” in return for allegedly doling out favours to a fictitious company.
Made public on March 14, barely weeks ahead of the start of the assembly polls, the sting became a major election issue for the opposition.
However, in the results declared on May 19, five of the half a dozen legislators seen in the video won the polls, while that the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool got a massive mandate.
Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Sovon Chatterjee and Suvendu Adhikari, who also figured in the footage, have become ministers in the present government.
Narada news portal chief executive Mathew Samuel said the Calcutta High Court was seized with the issue and was the best forum to decide on it.
The court ordered a forensic test on the Narada tapes in late April while hearing a Public Interest Litigations seeking an independent agency probe into the sting.
“Let the High Court decision come out. Let the High court decide. That is the best way to probe it.”
Samuel also dismissed as “baseless allegation” Banerjee’s charge that there was a “conspiracy” behind the sting controversy.
The state’s opposition parties and a section of the civil society sniggered at Banerjee’s probe order.
Leader of the opposition Abdul Mannan referred to Rajeev Kumar’s past as Bidhanagar police commissioner that was entrusted with the task of probing the multi-billion rupee Saradha chit fund scam in 2013 before the inquiry was handed over to the CBI following a Supreme Court order.
“The person who failed to arrest even a single person despite probing the chit fund scam for two years, cannot be expected to carry out a proper probe. He has been asked to give a clean chit. She is trying to food the people,” said Mannan, a Congress lawmaker.
CPI-M legislature party leader Sujon Chakraborty also targeted Kumar.
“This is a new plot in the drama. Everybody knows the outcome of such probes. The Special Investigation Team formed for the chit fund probe only tried to hush it up, by destroying incriminating papers,” said Chakraborty.
CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra also ridiculed Banerjee’s decision.
“The accused in the Narada sting now declares to conduct an investigation and that too by its henchman cop!! Farce of the d highest order!” Mishra twitted.
Former Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Ganguly said with the Calcutta High Court conducting a probe, it was “not proper” to hold a parallel inquiry.
Theatre personality Kaushik Sen said Banerjee’s announcement proved “the existence of some crime”.
“That’s the reason she has now ordered a probe. This shows the allegations had some basis,” said Sen.