West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday came out blazing against the Centre after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the residences of Jyotipriya Mallick who is currently the Minister for Forest Affairs and had previously held the portfolio for Food and Supplies in the state government in connection with a multi-crore ration scam.
Addressing a press conference from her residence as she is under medical rest, the Chief Minister asked: “This is a dirty game. Every morning you are raiding someone. Has any raid been conducted on the thieves and dacoits of the BJP?”
Jyotipriya Mallick is the third Minister of the West Bengal government who has been raided by the ED in the past one month and the fourth overall. Mamata Banerjee’s Industries Minister and former Education Minister Partha Chatterjee has been in jail for more than a year in connection with a cash-for-jobs scam in the education sector. The ED had recovered Rs 49 crore in cash from the apartments belonging to his close associate.
Banerjee said that her Minister Jyotipriya Mallick was highly diabetic and warned that if he succumbed due to the ED raids, she would order her police to file FIRs against the ED and the BJP. Banerjee accused the BJP-led government of using Central agencies to “harass” and “intimidate” political opponents. She also warned that the people of West Bengal would not tolerate such “misuse of power”.
“The BJP is playing a dirty political game. They are using Central agencies to harass and intimidate political opponents. This is a clear case of misuse of power. The people of West Bengal will not tolerate this,” Banerjee said. The ED raids on Thursday targeted the residences of TMC minister Jyotipriya Mallick in connection with its probe into the alleged multi-crore ration scam.
Banerjee said that the ED raids were a “political vendetta” against her party. She also accused the BJP of trying to “destabilise” the West Bengal government. “The BJP is trying to destabilise the democratically elected Government of West Bengal. They are using Central agencies to harass and intimidate political opponents. This is a clear case of political vendetta,” Banerjee said. “The people of West Bengal are watching all this. They will not tolerate this misuse of power. The BJP will be taught a lesson in the next elections,” Banerjee said.
ED sources said that the agency conducted searches at eight locations in Kolkata in connection with the multi-crore ration distribution scam in West Bengal. Raids were also conducted at the flat of the Minister’s personal assistant. The Enforcement Directorate recently tracked assets and property worth over Rs 100 crore of Bakibur Rahman, the Kolkata-based businessman who was arrested earlier this month by the agency in connection with the ration distribution scam. Mallick’s name, the sources added, surfaced during questioning of Bakibur Rahman.
Since the start, the Central agency sleuths had been suspecting the involvement of the high and mighty within the State Food & Supplies department in the matter.
The apprehension of the ED sleuths deepened after several official seals of the State Food & Supplies department were recovered from the residences and offices of Rahman.
The probe officials believe that ration distribution irregularities of such magnitude could not have been possible without active cooperation from high and mighty in the State Food & Supplies department and also a section of the ration distributors and ration dealers in the state. As per the sources, the main charge in the ration distribution irregularities case is that wheat meant for distribution through the fair price shops were diverted