CBI’s Kolkata adventure paralyses Parliament

New Delhi: A futile attempt by the CBI on Sunday to raid the house of city police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in Kolkata to interrogate him about two ponzi schemes rocked both the Houses of Parliament on Monday, forcing their adjournment for the day without transacting any business.

The entire Opposition backed Trinamul Congress members’ ruckus over their leader and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sitting on a protest ‘dharna’ in Kolkata since Sunday night in protest of the Centre misusing the CBI to frighten and threaten the opposition leaders.

The Opposition leaders feared the Modi government may even resort to dismiss the Mamata government after Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha about the Constitutional breakdown, saying he has spoken to the Bengal governor Kesarinath Tripathi and sought a full report on the “unfortunate” incident of the state police not only preventing the CBI officers from carrying out probe as per the Supreme Court’s 2014 directive but even took them to the police station, posing a “serious threat” to the federal structure of the country. Tripathi is a former BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh.

It was the first working day of Parliament as the first two days have gone in the President’s address on Thursday to a joint session and presentation of the Union Budget on Friday. Tampers on the two sides were so high that remainder of eight more sittings in the 2-week budget session may witness more ruckus, forcing the government to get motion of thanks to the President and the “interim budget” passed without debate and no other official Bills coming up.

Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu did not allow the Trinamul or any other opposition member raise the issue as he adjourned the House till 2 pm within five minutes of the start and then for the day, saying they could have discussed the issue in the motion of thanks to the President for his address listed on the day’s agenda.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the question hour on disruptions but allowed the Trinamul as also other opposition leaders speak on the incident during zero hour, adjourning the House after 30 minutes of pandemonium in the well by the opposition members and then for the day when the Opposition did not allow discussion on the motion of thanks to the President’s address listed in the House as also in the Rajya Sabha. Pandemonium will not solve any problem, she said before adjourning, pointing out that the issue was already in court and hence sub-judice.

The Trinamul Congress members raised slogans of “CBI chor hai,” and “Chowkidar chor hai” in the Lok Sabha while the Congress members joined them on the issue even while carrying the placards on the Rafale scam and condemnation of shots fired on Mahatma Gandhi’s effigy on his death anniversary, an issue which triggered nationwide protests by the Congress workers on Monday.

Other opposition members are spoke against the government and joined the protest.  An ugly scene was witnessed when the Trinamul members tried to assault expelled party member Soumitra Khan who tried to speak against Mamata Banerjee while sitting on the back bench with them. The Speaker’s intervention brought him to air his anger from a front bench for the ministers. He was expelled from the party last month.

Reading out from his written statement, Home Minister Rajnath Singh regretted the “unprecedented” prevention of the CBI officers performing their duty on the Supreme Court orders but even detained for a while to stop the probe into the Sharda chit fund involving money laundering and alleged political nexus. He said the Police Commissioner was summoned many times but he did not appear before the CBI. “Involvement of many political leaders has been found in the chit fund fraud,” he said and regretted that the Bengal government not cooperating in conduct of the probe.

Asking the Mamata government to obey the Constitution, the Home Minister said the state governor called the chief secretary and director general of police after he spoke to him, seeking a full report on the ugly incident of Sunday. He also made a request to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to allow functioning of the law enforcement agencies like CBI instead of creating obstacles.

On behalf of the Trinamul Congress, its veteran leader Prof. Saugata Roy described the attempt to raid Kolkata police commissioner’s residence as “misuse” of the CBI by the Centre despite a High Court injunction in his favour till February 13 and asserted that Prime Minister Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were rattled by massive January 19 rally by Mamata. He also referred to appointment of the new CBI director having no experience of probing the corruption cases despite objections by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge as a member of the 3-member high-power selection panel headed by the Prime Minister.

Even the Biju Janata Dalo (BJD) that steers clear of supporting the Opposition or sides with the government condemned the CBI’s “impropriety” of barging into a police commissioner’s residence and cited how last year the CBI had similarly barged into the house of a sitting High Court judge in his Odisha state. “We are not a banana republic, the way the institutions are being derided,” he said, noting that the manner in which the CBI functioned past two, three months do not show professionalism. He decried the Modi government using the CBI as a weapon in its hands.

Kharge went a step further to assert that what is happening in the country is shocking as the government is using the CBI as a weapon to finish all opposition leaders to bring autocratic government. Wondering which law allowed arrest of the police officers after 7 PM, pointing out that it has been happening also in Lucknow, Karnataka and Chennai. The opposition parties won’t bend because of such misuse of the institutions, he declared. Members of Samajwadi Party, CPI(M) and Rashtriya Janata Dal also joined in condemning the CBI’s failed misadventure in Kolkata.

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