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Saturday, August 20, 2022

Not just corruption, moral decay too is rampant within TMC ranks

On Saturday, July 23, the Enforcement Directorate arrested West Bengal Industries and Commerce Minister and secretary-general of Trinamool Congress, Partha Chatterjee (69). He also holds the portfolio of Parliamentary Affairs Department This arrest was made in connection with the mass irregularities in the West Bengal School Service Commission recruitment process. 

After questioning Chatterjee for almost 24 hours, the ED arrested him from his south Kolkata residence. Several medical tests were carried out on the minister in a government health facility in Joka, after which he was produced before a city court. The court sent Chatterjee to ED custody till Monday, July 25.

Partha Chatterjee is one of the top-most TMC functionaries to be detained in a corruption scam. But what occurred before and after the arrest was even more shocking and exposed the debauchery rooted in the functioning of top echelons of West Bengal’s ruling party.

Last Friday, a day before Chatterjee’s arrest, the agency seized ₹21 crores unaccounted cash from the residence of the politician’s “close aid”, Arpita Mukherjee (39), a small-time actress from a middle-class family who has had a meteoric rise in recent years. 

“The said amount is suspected to be proceeds of crime of said SSC (School Service Commission) Scam,” mentions a statement by ED.

Seizures made from Arpita Mukherjee’s homes (Image Source: ANI)

On Monday, a special court remanded Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee to Enforcement Directorate custody for a period of 10 days.

Another flat owned by Arpita Mukherjee was raided on Thursday and a further ₹28 crores cash seized. A huge sum of money was found in the flat’s toilet. Visuals of the stacks of cash have gone viral. Arpita has confessed to ED that the recovered amount belongs to Partha Chatterjee, but feigned ignorance about why such a huge amount was kept in the flat.

In addition to cash, gold and jewellery worth ₹4.31 crore including 3 gold bricks of 1 kg each, 6 Kangan (bangles) of 500 grams each, and a gold pen were also seized from the second flat. Jewelery worth ₹20 lakh, foreign currency worth ₹54 lakh, fixed deposit papers, 22 mobile phones, two hard disks, a black diary said to contain details of the scam and a host of other incriminating documents were recovered in the raid at the first flat.

The net value of all these seizures has already crossed ₹50 crores, and there are believed to be several more properties linked to Partha and Arpita. Three properties owned by Partha Chatterjee in south Kolkata’s Tollygunge area have come to light – one of these flats is reportedly used exclusively for his dogs.

Many social media users have alleged that Arpita is a ‘special friend’ of Partha Chatterjee. Some visuals have also emerged on social media, where Arpita can be seen dancing to songs dedicated to Partha Chatterjee.

There are also allegations that sex toys have been seized from Arpita’s residence. LoP Suvendu Adhikari has come out strongly, calling Partha Chatterjee a ‘dirty man’ who has exploited several younger women.

As per reports, two other ‘close friends’ of Partha Chatterjee who are now on the ED scanner: Professor Monalisa Das and Professor Zarina Khatun.

(Left) Professor Monalisa Das (Right) Professor Zarina Khatun with TMC minister Partha Chatterjee

ED has come to know of at least 10 properties registered in the name of Das, with most located in Bolpur-Santiniketan in Birbhum district. Das was appointed directly as the head of the department of Bengali at state-run Kazi Nazrul University when Chatterjee was the state Education Minister in 2013.   

“The total value of these flats is highly disproportionate to the declared income of Das,” an ED official was quoted as saying.

TMC and left-liberal journalists brazen it out

Many believe that while Partha Chatterjee and his ‘close aides’ might have become the public face of the WBSSC scam, something of this magnitude could not have taken place without Mamata Banerjee’s knowledge.

Despite TMC being exposed in such a public way, left-liberal journalists are brazening it out with the likes of Ajit Anjum even mocking PM Modi instead, wondering why such cash piles are being found despite ‘chips being installed’ in new currency (this was a rumour that was floating around during demonetisation). Others like NDTV are worried about the ‘PR crisis’ this scam has created for Mamata Banerjee and the entire Opposition.

Mamata’s bhaipo (nephew) Abhishek Banerjee, seen as her anointed successor, has also tried to make false equivalences, saying TMC has removed Partha Chatterjee from all party posts unlike BJP which didn’t sack FM Nirmala Sitharaman when fraud-accused Nirav Modi managed to flee the country.

Mamata herself went on a diatribe during a government function on Monday, claiming that she had nothing to do with the WBSSC scam and threatening that she would have “chopped opponents’ tongues” had she not been in politics.

TMC’s moral decay

This is not the first time a senior TMC leader has been embroiled in sleaze and corruption.

Mamata loyalist MLA Madan Mitra epitomizes the immorality that ordinary Bengalis have begun to associate with TMC. Recently, this ‘colorful’ leader was in the news after his pictures getting intimate with a young woman while smoking hookah went viral. Mitra’s daughter-in-law has alleged that she was physically assaulted and abused by her husband and has received death threats from her in-laws.

Mitra was Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, and Minister of Transport in the first TMC administration. However, he had to resign after he was arrested for the Sarada chit fund scam in 2014 and got bail after 21 months. In May last year, Mitra was arrested by CBI in connection with the Narada sting operation, but this time got bail after a few days.

Mitra also fashions himself as a musician, claiming to have a unique hybrid style of hip-hop and rap combined with traditional Bengali music. In 2012, he indulged in victim blaming and questioned the morals of Suzette Jordan, the Park Street rape victim. CM Mamata had dismissed that gang-rape as a ‘sajano ghotona‘ (concocted incident) and TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar had slandered the victim as a ‘sex worker’. He has also made sacrilegious remarks against Hindu Dharma, like “Sita used to cook beef for Parshuram” and has even demanded a ban on ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

A few months ago, headlines of Bengali media houses were abuzz with talks of Kolkata’s ex-Mayor 58-year-old Shovan Chatterjee’s extra-marital affair with one Baisakhi Banerjee. Trinamool MLA Kanchan Mullick has also been accused of adultery by his wife Pinki Banerjee. On July 21, he attended TMC’s Shahid Divas rally with rumoured girlfriend Sreemoyee Chattoraj. The infamous “marriage-turned-void” case of TMC MP Nusrat Jahan, who has given birth to an actor-turned-BJP leader’s son out of wedlock, is also a known episode in West Bengal’s polity. 

This kind of degeneracy also has the apparent blessing of the TMC matriarch, as Mamata Banerjee had encouraged homemakers to have extramarital affairs with men of their choice. 

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