ED Asks TMC’s Abhishek to Appear on Oct 9; MP Challenges Agency to Provide Evidence – News18

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee to appear before its officers in Kolkata on October 9 in connection with the West Bengal school jobs scam, prompting the MP to challenge the central agency to provide evidence against him to the court.

The probe agency has also summoned Banerjee’s wife, Rujira, for questioning on October 11, an official said.

“Our officers will question Abhishek Banerjee on October 9 and his wife on October 11 regarding the school jobs scam. Both have been asked to report to our office at the CGO Complex here,” the officer told PTI.

Banerjee, the TMC national general secretary, did not reveal whether he would go for the questioning, he challenged the ED to submit any evidence, if available, to the court.

Previously, the ED had summoned Abhishek Banerjee’s parents, Amit and Lata Banerjee, in the same case.

Banerjee, the Member of Parliament from Diamond Harbour, had been asked to appear before the ED on October 3 but he had skipped the summons to participate in the TMC’s protest rally in New Delhi.

The rally demanded immediate release of central funds due to the state.

Upon returning to Kolkata after the two-day protest in New Delhi, Banerjee accused the BJP of using the ED and CBI to target opposition parties.

“I will inform the ED about my next course of action at the right time. This matter is pending in court, and hence, I won’t make any comment on it. All I can say is that while the BJP is inducting offenders into the party, it is simultaneously unleashing central agencies against opposition leaders. Join the BJP after committing a crime, and you will be cleared of all charges,” Banerjee remarked.

In response to the ED’s summons to his wife, Rujira Narula Banerjee, he stated, “This is not the first time that my family members have been summoned. Earlier, they were summoned in other cases.” The TMC MP challenged the ED to submit any evidence it may have before the court.

“Why are they not submitting any evidence they might have against me before the court? How is it that my communications and letters to the ED are being leaked to BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari who is posting them on social media? I will take this matter to court, and there should be an investigation by the ED and CBI into how confidential letters are being leaked,” he asserted.

The Trinamool Congress labelled the ED’s summons as “Abhishek-phobia” and “vendetta politics,” following the party’s recent protests in New Delhi against the Centre for allegedly withholding the state government’s dues.

“Before our protest programme, summons were issued to Abhishek Banerjee in an attempt to sabotage it. When all other tactics failed to deter us from holding the agitation, they resorted to underhand tactics. The summoning of Banerjee is a clear example of vendetta politics and Abhishek-phobia,” stated TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh.

The TMC had organised protests in the national capital on October 2 and 3 when several of its leaders were detained. Banerjee, along with party lawmakers, state ministers, and supporters, including MGNREGA workers, staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday.

This was a day after they conducted a two-hour sit-in at Rajghat on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary before being forcibly removed by the police.

Responding to the TMC’s allegations, the BJP maintained that central agencies do not require consultation with the TMC before issuing summons.

“The investigation into the School Service Commission (SSC) scam is being carried out following court orders. If the TMC has nothing to hide, why are they reluctant to appear before the central agencies? If they have grievances, they can always seek legal remedies,” stated BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.

Banerjee, who was questioned by the ED for nearly nine hours in the teacher recruitment scam on September 13, had then claimed that the interrogation was an attempt to prevent him from participating in the INDIA meet and was a testament to the pivotal role the TMC plays in forging opposition unity.

The two-time TMC MP from Diamond Harbour had been questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) twice in the coal pilferage case, once in the agency’s office in the national capital in 2021 and again in Kolkata in 2022.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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