Less than a day before members of the newly elected West Bengal government are sworn in as cabinet ministers and Minister of state, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has initiated a new development to the political landscape.
On a request from the CBI, the Governor on Sunday sanctioned the prosecution of Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee in conjunction with the posts they had held at the time of the the purported Narada sting tapes. All four were ministers in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet when the tapes were allegedly made in 2014.
"Honourable governor is the competent authority to accord sanction in terms of law as he happens to be the appointing authority for such ministers in terms of Article 164 of the Constitution," a statement issued by the officer on special duty (communication), Raj Bhavan, said.
While Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and Madan Mitra have been re-elected as TMC MLAs recently, Sovan Chatterjee had earlier defected to the BJP before cutting ties with both camps. The Governor's announcement comes less than a day before the Hakim and Mukherjee are slated to take oath as Cabinet Ministers in the West Bengal government.
As per an update shared by the West Bengal secretariat, Nabbana, several former ministers like Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee, Sadhan Pande, Sashi Panja, Jyotipriyo Mullick, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, Bratya Basu feature on the 34-member list of Cabinet members.
The Narada sting tapes, made public before the 2016 assembly elections in West Bengal, were claimed to have been shot in 2014, wherein people resembling TMC ministers, MPs and MLAs were allegedly seen receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in lieu of promised favours. The sting operation was allegedly conducted by Mathew Samuel of Narada News portal. The Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the sting operation in March, 2017.
(With inputs from agencies)