Two days after senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), TMC supreme and West Bengal Chief Minsiter Mamata Banerjee has said she does not support any corruption and that the guilty must be punished.
Earlier, in a sign that TMC is distancing itself from Chatterjee, the party had said that there should be a time-bound investigation on Chatterjee.
Chatterjee is an accused in the West Bengal school recruitment school, which allegedly took place when he was the state education minister during 2014-21. It is alleged that illegal recruitment took place, people with lower marks ranked high in the merit list, and that Chatterjee took money to give jobs to people.
Mamata on Monday said, "I don't support corruption or any wrongdoing. If anyone is found guilty, he or she must be punished, but I condemn malicious campaign against me."
Backing the earlier stand of a time-bound investigation, Mamata said, "Truth must come out but within a time frame."
She further said, "BJP is wrong if it thinks it can break my party using agencies."
Chatterjee was arrested after 26 hours of questioning by the ED. While criminal aspects of the case are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the ED is following the money trail and is investigating money laundering element of the alleged scam.
The ED also carried out multiple raids. In one such raid at a property of actor and model Arpita Mukherjee, also said to be a close aide of Chatterjee, piles of cash reported to be in excess of Rs 21 crore were recovered.
Chatterjee's alleged involvement in the case and the reported recovery of cash have led to the TMC distancing itself from him, who is otherwise number three in the party, with only party supremo Mamata and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee above him.
CNN-News 18 reported, "It [TMC] could have used this opportunity to bolster its allegation of the BJP using central agencies for political vendetta, but the alleged seizure of Rs 20 crore in cash from the premises of a close aide of West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee has pushed the Trinamool Congress on the back foot."
It also noted that Chatterjee's arrest and recovery of Rs 20 crore comes as an embarrassment to TMC at a time when it's not just taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party but is also carving a greater role within the Opposition by challenging the traditional Congress leadership and carving its own way.
(With PTI inputs)