After the CBI arrested Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal on December 30, the question doing the rounds in the political circles of West Bengal is: who's next?
At a press conference on the day Pal was arrested, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress chief, put up a brave front and said she was well aware that the Central government agency was going to summon more of her party functionaries. She said she has already got hold of a list of names of her party's senior leaders who will be summoned by the CBI.
Will there be more arrests? Banerjee has already called it vendetta politics and that the ruling BJP is using the CBI as its tool to threaten her and her party functionaries.
Will there be more arrests? Banerjee has already called it vendetta politics and that the ruling BJP is using the CBI as its tool to threaten her and her party functionaries because she dared to raise her voice on the demonetisation issue. She even asked her party colleagues to face it all with courage and bravery.
Banerjee seemed cool and confident at the press conference, telling journalists that she knew she and her party leaders were being harassed in this manner. She even casually announced a dearness allowance for the state government employees towards the end of the press conference, perhaps trying to indicate that all this does not affect her, and it won't make her lose focus on her job as an administrator.
But who is next? That is still the question uppermost in the minds of the Trinamool Congress functionaries. Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandopadhyay has already been summoned by the CBI in connection with an alleged scam of the Rose Valley chit fund. MP Satabdi Roy, had also been summoned earlier in connection with the Saradha scam investigations, and speculations are rife that she too will be summoned soon. Will Sudip Bandopadhyay and Satabdi Roy be released after questioning? Or will they face arrest? That was the fear among Trinamool Congress leaders throughout the day.
Several other names too, are doing the rounds. Mukul Roy, who was the party's second-in-command till he fell out with Mamata Banerjee couple of years ago, has already been summoned by the CBI earlier. So was another leader Subhendu Adhikary. There were speculations that Roy and Adhikary were both going to join the BJP two years ago, around the same time that the two leaders had been summoned by the CBI.
Will Sudip Bandopadhyay and Satabdi Roy be released after questioning? Or will they face arrest? That was the fear among Trinamool Congress leaders throughout the day.
Now, there are talks that these two leaders may be called by the CBI yet again, though it may take some more time. Asked whether he feared the CBI may call him again for questioning, Adhikary told HuffPost India: "I won't comment on a hypothetical question. The CBI had called me earlier in connection with a different case." Adhikary meant that he was summoned in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam, while his party colleague Tapas Pal, had been summoned in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund case.
But does he fear he may be summoned by the CBI because his party stand is that this is vendetta politics and all this was politically motivated? Adhikary would not comment. Mukul Roy refused to comment on anything to do with the CBI. "I am a dedicated soldier of the party. That's all I will say," Roy said.
Sources say that several other senior leaders of Trinamool Congress are under the scanner of the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department. Two senior ministers holding charge of important departments in the state, are said to be under the scanner. Sources said that these two ministers, who are based in Kolkata, and are close to the chief minister, are likely to face some action from a Central government agency soon.
Under the backdrop of the Trinamool Congress and the BJP in a raging war of words and a direct collision course over the demonetisation issue, what remains to be seen is how convincing Banerjee can be in her bid to assure people (she is answerable only to the people, she says) that her party functionaries are being unnecessarily troubled by the ruling party at the Centre.