KOLKATA, July 25 (PTI): If anyone is found guilty of wrongdoing, he must be punished, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday, days after her cabinet colleague Partha Chatterjee was arrested in the SSC scam by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Addressing an award function of the state government here, Banerjee slammed the opposition for a “malicious campaign” launched against her, asserting that she does not support corruption.
“I will not get into the details of the case as it is sub judice. We have full faith in the judiciary. We want a time-bound probe into the matter. If someone is found guilty, the person should be punished accordingly, be it life imprisonment. I won’t mind. But, I condemn the malicious campaign against me,” she said.
“We want a fast-track court to hear the matter, otherwise it will be like the Saradha case, which is pending for over ten years and there is no verdict or justice. The crime was done by the CPI(M), but the TMC was targeted,” she alleged.
Banerjee said she believes in politics of sacrifice and serving the country.
“I am not in politics to improve my life. Throughout my life, I have been against corruption but I do not support injustice. However, I am unhappy with the recent developments that have taken place in the state. I do not spare anyone, even if that person is a minister,” she said.
Referring to the video shared by the BJP, in which she was seen interacting with Arpita Mukherjee from whose house Rs 22 crore in cash was found, the chief minister said the Trinamool Congress has no links with her.
“The party has no relation with that lady, neither do I know her. I will not be a part of the media trial that is going on. If I visit several Durga Puja pandals and interact with people there, does it mean I know them personally? No. And if that is the case, what about Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, who were clicked with BJP leaders?” she asked.
“Please remember, an injured lion can be dangerous. Please do not play with fire. If anyone has done wrong, prosecute him. But, do not touch me because I know how to fight back, for I have done nothing wrong. Take three months’ time, but get to the bottom of the SSC scam,” she said.
Banerjee claimed that over one lakh people were hired by the state government during her tenure but there were complaints of only 200 discrepancies in the recruitment drives done through the School Service Commission (SSC).
“Will all of them be rendered jobless? If there are any mistakes, they can be rectified,” she said.
“Over the last two days, the BJP and the CPI(M) are campaigning with photos of hordes of cash and my picture. If I had not been in government, I would have torn off their tongues. Supporting corruption is neither my hobby nor my profession,” she said.
Hitting out at the BJP, Banerjee said it has to be seen whether the investigation is a trap to malign her and the Trinamool Congress.
“If BJP thinks they can break parties and government by using agencies, they are wrong. It will never happen with us,” she said.
Chatterjee, the Industry and Commerce Minister, was arrested by the ED on Saturday in connection with its investigation into the irregularities in the recruitment drives by the SSC, which allegedly happened when he was the state’s Education Minister.
Mukherjee, his close aide, was also arrested by the agency after the huge amount of cash was found at her south Kolkata apartment.
Chatterjee, a powerful minister who served as the leader of the opposition when the Left Front was in power, soon after his arrest had said that he had tried to reach the chief minister multiple times over the phone but could not.
The Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe into multiple hirings done by the SSC during the TMC regime amid allegations of large-scale irregularities. The ED is looking into the financial aspect of the investigation.