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”I’m victim of conspiracy”, says Partha Chatterjee

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Image: ANI

Former West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee said that he is being framed in a conspiracy, a day after he was stripped of his portfolios and his positions in the Trinamool Congress by chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday, six days after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with an alleged teacher recruitment scam, in which the agency recovered cash worth RS 50 crore.

“I’ve been framed, I’m a victim of conspiracy,” Chatterjee said. Arrested Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee – who is now suspended from the Trinamool Congress – and his aide Arpita Mukherjee have separately claimed that they are a “victim of conspiracy.”

“Partha Chatterjee has been removed from TMC along with the post of General Secretary, National vice president and three other posts. He has been suspended till the investigation is underway,” Abhishek Banerjee said.

Trinamool Congress, which had been distancing itself from its arrested leader Partha Chatterjee, axed him as a minister on Thursday and suspended him from the party leaving it to him to defend himself in the Enforcement Directorate probe in the teacher recruitment scam in which crores of rupees have been seized from residences linked to his aide Arpita Mukherjee.

Trinamool Congress’ decision to part ways with one of its most senior leaders was announced by party leader Abhishek Banerjee at a press conference in which he said “if anyone commits something wrong then Trinamool Congress will not spare him” and ‘there will be zero tolerance for corruption”.

He said Partha Chatterjee will remain suspended till probe is underway. Party leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee removed Partha Chatterjee as a minister in the state government.

Partha Chatterjee was considered one of the most trusted lieutenants of the Chief Minister, a “go-to” man and was regarded third in party hierarchy after the chief Minister and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

After his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate on Saturday, Partha Chatterjee had called Mamata Banerjee four times. She did not take his calls.

 Political observers said that Partha Chatterjee has been virtually left in the cold by the party to defend himself in the face of apparently onerous allegations in the ED probe. They said that the Trinamool Congress move is also aimed at cutting any losses due to ED probe in the teacher recruitment scam.

Partha Chatterjee was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the School Service Commission (SSC) scam in West Bengal on Saturday.

 Abhishek Banerjee told the media here that Partha Chatterjee has been removed from TMC along with the post of general secretary, national vice president and three other posts.

“He has been suspended till the investigation is underway. He can come back if proven not guilty. CM took the decision and the (Partha Chatterjee) minister was removed. The probe into the matter is underway. If anyone commits something wrong then TMC won’t spare him,” he said Abhishek Banerjee said the investigating agency must complete the probe in a time-bound manner.

‘’There will be zero tolerance for corruption. Investigating agency must complete the probe within the time limit. Even in Sarada case nothing happened, it’s just lingering. There should be a time-bound investigation,” he said.

“The one (Arpita Mukherjee) from whose house sums of money were recovered isn’t from TMC. We want stringent action against those who are linked to this matter. I am saying this in a hypothetical way that if Partha Chatterjee goes to BJP after two months then he will become a saint. Since he is in TMC, all of these things are happening,” he added.

Admitting that huge sums of money had been recovered, Abhishek Banerjee said “TMC is the only party that intervened within seven days in the matter.”

” I agree huge sums of money were recovered. But, everyday bank frauds are happening what action did BJP take? Nirav Modi flew away, did BJP sack Nirmala Sitharaman, it’s TMC who walk the talk,” he said.

He also took a dig at BJP leader and actor-politician Mithun Chakraborty that 38 TMC MLAs were in touch with the party. “Mithun Chakraborty doesn’t even know how many Assembly seats and districts are there in Bengal. He just wants to brag about how big a leader he has become, if he wants to make a mockery of himself, then, so be it,” Abhishek Banerjee said.

The arrest of Partha Chatterjee followed Rs 21 crore in cash and jewellery worth above Rs 1 crore being recovered from the Kolkata residence of Arpita Mukherjee, a close aide of the former education minister.

The ED unearthed many disproportionate assets allegedly of Partha Chatterjee since his arrest, of which were three flats in West Bengal’s Diamond City.

The ED raided Arpita Mukerjee’s house in connection with an alleged teacher recruitment scam in West Bengal. “The said amount is suspected to be proceeds of crime of the said SSC scam,” the probe agency had said in a statement.

The searches by Enforcement Directorate on premises linked to Arpita Mukherjee are continuing and earlier on Thursday, a team of officials reached the New Town residence of Arpita Mukherjee. The officials reached her residence at the Royal Residency flat at Chinar Park in New Town in West Bengal’s Kolkata along with the Central Force personnel.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had on Thursday morning left the Belgharia residence of Arpita Mukherjee after filling ten trunks with cash amounting to approximately Rs 27.90 crore that was found there.

ED sleuths on Wednesday began their fresh searches on the premises linked to Arpita Mukherjee. The flat of her mother at Belgharia Club town in North 24 Parganas and three other premises was covered in the action initiated on Wednesday.

One of the two flats of Arpita Mukherjee, in Belghoria, has been sealed by ED. ED officials also conducted a raid at the residence of businessman Manoj Jain in Ballygunge. Jain is reportedly an aide of Partha Chatterjee.

 A five-time MLA, Chatterjee was appointed as the minister-in-charge of higher education and school education in 2014 and he held the portfolio till 2021.

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