BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Monday demanded immediate resignation of the “tainted” Cabinet ministers of West Bengal after CBI booked 13 persons, including a few sitting Trinamool Congress MPs and West Bengal ministers, in connection with the Narada sting operation case.
"We demand that the tainted ministers resign from the Cabinet immediately. They have lost the moral right to continue in office. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee should immediately remove them from the ministry.
"The TMC claims to be a symbol of honesty. If the tainted ministers are not removed, it means TMC supports corruption," he said.
A total of 12 Trinamool Congress leaders, including MPs and ministers in the West Bengal government, and an IPS officer have been booked by the CBI in the Narada sting case, where they were allegedly caught on camera accepting bribe.
Those named in the FIR are - Madan Mitra (former state minister), Mukul Roy (Rajya Sabha), Saugata Roy, Aparupa Poddar, Sultan Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (Lok Sabha MPs), Firhad Hakim, Suvendu Adhikari, Subrata Mukherjee (state ministers), Sovan Chatterjee (Kolkata Mayor), Iqbal Ahmed (MLA), Saiyaad Mustafa Hussain Mirza (IPS officer).
The CBI registered the FIR under charges of criminal conspiracy and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with bribery and criminal misconduct. The maximum sentence for these crimes range from five to seven years of imprisonment.
Reacting to the development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asserted that merely filing of the FIR by the CBI against TMC leaders in the Narada tape case did not mean that their guilt have been proved.
Describing it as a "political game," Banerjee, who is also the TMC chief, said, "We will fight it out politically".
"Because they (CBI) have filed the FIR, does it mean their guilt is proved? Let them (the CBI) first prove the guilt. There is no cause for any worry," she told reporters at the state secretariat.
The Narada sting tapes, which were released to different news organisations before the 2016 Assembly elections in West Bengal, showed people resembling senior TMC leaders receiving money allegedly in exchange of future favours.
The Calcutta High Court had on March 17 ordered a preliminary inquiry by the CBI into the sting operation in which several Trinamool Congress leaders were seen allegedly taking money.
The order was challenged by the West Bengal government in the Supreme Court which upheld the HC order and ruled that the investigation would continue despite the objections raised by the state government and gave the CBI one month to file an FIR, if required.
The tapes were run on Naradanews.com, where Mathew Samuel is the CEO. The sting operation was purportedly carried out for nearly two years and was supposed to be published in a magazine where Samuel was working.
The Trinamool Congress managed to retain West Bengal by a convincing win but the tapes added to its problems as several leaders named in the case were already facing the CBI probe in the chit fund scam.
During the preliminary enquiry, the CBI had taken detailed information from Samuel quizzing him for nearly five hours at the agency's headquarters on April 6.
Samuel had told the High Court that the recordings were done using an iPhone, which were transferred to a laptop and then stored in a pen-drive.