File photo of Trinamool Congress general secretary and former railway minister Mukul Roy.
Mukul Roy, Trinamool Member of Parliament and the party's all-India general secretary, will not appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI on Thursday for questioning in the Saradha chit fund case.
Mr Roy sent his lawyer to the CBI office in Kolkata today with a letter seeking 15 days' time. However, the CBI has agreed to give him a period of 7 days.
Late on Wednesday night, Mr Roy said, "I had told the CBI I would contact them as soon as I returned from Delhi to Kolkata. I have done that".
"But since then, by-polls have been announced to two seats in Bengal - Bongaon Lok Sabha seat and Krishnaganj Assembly seat. The last date of filing nominations is January 27. Since I look after election matters in my party, I requested the CBI that I be excused from appearing before it for two weeks," he said.
Opposition leaders claimed Mr Roy was trying to delay the questioning.
"These are just delay tactics," said BJP's Tathagata Roy. CPM MP Mohammed Salim said, "Roy is buying time for the next person that the CBI is going to call from his party."
Mr Roy met with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at her office after he landed in Kolkata today morning. But post the meeting, he left without speaking to the waiting media.
Later, Trinamool Secretary General Partha Chatterjee held a press conference to repeat a charge he had made on Monday that the BJP, which is leading the ruling coalition at the Centre, was using the CBI for "political vendetta". Mr Chatterjee also announced that state Minister for Backward Classes Upen Biswas, who has been the CBI's joint director, would be advisor to the party on matters related to the Saradha case.
Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh and Asif Khan, once a close aide of Mr Roy, have reportedly claimed that Saradha boss Sudipta Sen met Mr Roy on April 5, 2013. The meeting, they say, happened just days before the Saradha boss fled Kolkata after the chit fund collapsed. A driver of Mr Sen, Arvind Singh Chouhan, has reportedly admitted the same thing to the CBI.
While Kunal Ghosh was arrested in the Saradha scam in November 2013, Asif Khan, who quit the party in August, was arrested last November in a land-related scam.
The CBI is also likely to question Mr Roy about an alleged meeting between Mamata Banerjee and Sudipta Sen at a government guest house at Delo in Darjeeling.