TT, Calcutta, June 18: Mamata Banerjee today asserted that “from Saradha to Narada, the Trinamul Congress has not taken a single paisa from anybody”, a day after announcing a government probe into the “conspiracy” behind “a sting operation”.
“These things have become very dangerous nowadays. We are in public life. We have to meet and deal with people daily. Someone you know and trust asks for your time. You meet them. While meeting you, they place a wad of cash in front of you and secretly take a picture. They will blackmail you later with it,” the chief minister told a “political workshop” of Trinamul at Netaji Indoor Stadium.
“All of us have to be very careful…. Such is the time that someone will secretly film even a petty quarrel between a brother and a sister and later demand Rs 5 crore, or else the video would be made public,” she added.
Seated on the front row of the dais were ministers Firhad Hakim, Sovan Chatterjee and Subhendu Adhikari, Rajya Sabha member Mukul Roy and Lok Sabha members Saugata Roy and Sultan Ahmed.
Images of people resembling these leaders and several others from the party were seen on the Narada tapes either accepting cash from a journalist posing as the agent of a fictitious company or directing him to places or persons with whom the money had to be deposited.
“I did not ask for money. I did not call you. Why did you have to do this? You came on your own, offered money and then tried to blackmail. We want to know how much money is being raised through such blackmailing,” Mamata said today.
“From Saradha to Narada, the Trinamul Congress has not taken a single paisa from anybody,” she added.
Questioning the source of funds for the sting, Mamata asked Adhikari if he needed Rs 1.5 lakh to sustain his family. “Do you, Subhendu? Without Rs 1.5 lakh, will your household fall apart?” Adhikari laughed and shook his head, implying a no.
The chief minister asked Hakim if he had asked for Rs 2 lakh from anyone. “Did you ask for it, Bobby (Hakim’s nickname), Rs 2 lakh from anyone?” she asked. A grim-faced Hakim said “no”.