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4 Jan 2017

Gloves off after arrest - Mamata cries demonetisation-linked vendetta after CBI picks up Sudip

Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna on Tuesday
Meghdeep Bhattacharyya, TT, Calcutta, Jan. 3: The discord between Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi today exploded into a full-blown confrontation that spilled onto the streets after the CBI arrested Trinamul Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
The MP, who had emerged as Trinamul's spearhead in the anti-demonetisation campaign in New Delhi, was picked up in connection with a probe against Rose Valley, a business group that used to collect deposits. 
The CBI probe, which started in 2014, was largely dormant for the past several months but has stirred back to life at a time Mamata has taken the Centre on over the demonetisation.
Once Mamata's campaign against the note recall shifted to Delhi, Bandyopadhyay was seen by the side of Rahul Gandhi - a fact the Congress leadership highlighted today while offering support to Trinamul although the state Congress has welcomed the arrest.
Congress sources revealed in Delhi that Sonia Gandhi's political secretary, Ahmed Patel, spoke to Mamata today.
CBI sources claimed that Bandyopadhyay had aided the growth of Rose Valley and that the investigators had been busy all these months gathering information from the company's former employees and agents. Last week, another Trinamul Lok Sabha MP, Tapas Paul, had been arrested in the same case.
Tapas is a political lightweight and although Trinamul was bracing for more casualties in the deposit case, some sources said Mamata was not expecting the immediate arrest of a leader as senior as Bandyopadhyay.
"I didn't expect him to be arrested. Sudipda's arrest was a horrible thing to do. They did it by force," Mamata said.
She went out of her way to defend Bandyopadhyay and attack Modi. Sources said Mamata was keen to send a message to her key lieutenants - some of whom are said to be on the CBI's radar - that she would stand by them.
In the absence of any immediate political test in Bengal after her spectacular victory in the Assembly polls, Mamata's response today suggested she was keeping the national audience in her mind.
The chief minister, who spoke to leaders from other states, focused on the politics of intimidation and vendetta allegedly being followed by the Modi government and sought to strike a chord among the rest of the Opposition.
"They are threatening people all the time. Sometimes it's Arvind (Kejriwal), sometimes it's Soniaji, sometimes Mayawatiji, sometimes Laluji. Everyone. Some are scared and therefore quiet. But everyone is unhappy," Mamata said.
"Things cannot be kept under wraps with such tactics. I will request everyone to hit the streets to stop Modi."
Trinamul has lined up a series of protest programmes, including a dharna in Delhi and rallies in Calcutta and the rest of Bengal.
Both Mamata and the BJP hinted at more arrests. The nature of incarceration has changed this time because the CBI has taken both Paul and Bandyopadhyay to Odisha, where Trinamul has little influence.
"Many more Banerjees would be arrested now," BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said in a veiled threat to the chief minister and her nephew.
Mamata herself rolled out an alleged retribution list. "Now we are coming to know from people inside that he (Modi) says, ' Humko Bobby (Firhad Hakim) chahiye, Sovan (Chatterjee) chahiye, Abhishek (Banerjee) chahiye, Subhendu (Adhikari) chahiyeMalay Ghatak chahiye'," she said.

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