By Linus Garg
First publised on 2022-08-01 08:18:21
Partha Chatterjee, former West Bengal minister and senior TMC leader, accused in the SSC recruitment scam in the state, vehemently denied that the cash and gold recovered from the flats of his close aide Arpita Mukherjee belonged to him. He said thrice in Bengali "amar noy, amar noy, amar noy" (not mine, not mine, not mine) immediately raising the question who he was trying to blame. Chatterjee had earlier also said that he was being implicated in a conspiracy. Political circles in the state are abuzz with rumours and people are wondering who Chatterjee is trying to blame.
The events as they have unfolded show a very interesting chronology. That the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had raided Arpita Mukherjee's flat and recovered huge cash, gold and property papers was known to all on the day ED officials chose to visit Chatterjee's house to question him in a marathon session. As soon as the cash and other valuables were recovered and seized, TMC spokesmen issued statements saying the party had nothing to do with the amount seized and Arpita Mukherjee was not a party member. Later, when Chatterjee was arrested and he allegedly called Mamata Banerjee past midnight, she did not receive his calls. When more cash was recovered a couple of days later from another flat, TMC once again distanced itself from the seizure.
Later when Chatterjee was removed as minister and suspended from the party, he started saying that he was being framed as part of a conspiracy. Now, after 7 days, he has said that the seized money does not belong to him. Arpita, on the other hand, has said that she did not know what Chatterjee stored in the rooms in her flat as she was not given the keys to those rooms and not allowed inside. It was only Chatterjee who used to open those rooms. So if now Chatterjee says that the money does not belong to him, whose money was he storing in those rooms and on whose behest was he acting as the keeper of the stash?
The TMC has rightly questioned his silence in the initial days and his denial now. But it could be that when Chatterjee was arrested, he had hopes that the party would bail him out of the tricky situation. When he was removed as minister and suspended from the party, he knew he was on his own and started making allegations about the conspiracy and fact that the money did not belong to him. Whatever the situation, the fact is that the SCC scam did happen and that is proved by the fact that there are many witnesses who have said they paid money to get the jobs. ED has also allegedly recovered notes, some of them allegedly on the letterhead of the then education minister, about names of people given jobs and the amount they paid. Money did change hands and the huge amount recovered till now from the accused shows that it was a massive scam. Although the TMC can say that Partha Chatterjee was the mastermind, still he was the education minister then and it is strange that the party did not get a whiff of what he was up to. For now, the TMC has done damage control by removing Chatterjee but if more skeletons tumble out then the party will be further embarrassed.