Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira Banerjee has been asked to join investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a case involving allegations of coal smuggling. The CBI team turned up at the home of Mr Banerjee in Kolkata today to issue summons to her in the case, sources told NDTV. But she was not at home and the officials left after handing a notice for questioning to her family. Sources in the CBI said they will return to her house to question her whenever she indicates she is available.
The agency has also summoned Menaka Gambhir, the sister-in-law of Abhishek Banerjee, for questioning on Monday.
The allegations are that is that coal mafia paid regular kickbacks to leaders of Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress.
The money was channelled through Vinay Mishra, who is the general secretary of the Trinamool's youth wing that's headed by Abhishek Banerjee. On December 31, the CBI raided the home of Vinay Mishra, who is now on the run. The agency has issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
"At 2pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down," Abhishek Banerjee tweeted.
At 2pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down. pic.twitter.com/U0YB6SC5b8— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) February 21, 2021
The Central agency filed the case in November last year to probe alleged illegal mining and theft of coal from Kunustoria and Kajoria coal fields of Eastern Coalfield Limited.
The pilferage of coal from the open cast mines of Eastern Coalfields in the Dhanbad-Asansol belt has been a longstanding investigation. The scammers collect coal from these mines and smuggle it out, resulting in loss of revenue for the Centre and the states in thousands of crores.
For long, the BJP has accused Abhishek Banerjee, the MP from Diamond Harbour, of involvement in the coal scam. The party has dubbed him the "coal thief".
The summons to his wife comes in the backdrop of impending assembly elections in the state, in which the BJP is hoping to wrest power from the Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress.
Abhishek Banerjee is seen by many as the political heir of the Chief Minister and his rapid rise in the party is said to have alienated many leaders, some of whom have joined the BJP.
Earlier this week, Ms Banerjee had challenged Amit Shah to beat Mr Banerjee in the elections as the two sparred over allegations of dynasty politics levelled by the BJP.
"Modi Sarkar is for Garib Kalyan (welfare of the poor). Mamata Sarkar is for Bhatija Kalyan (welfare of the nephew). She is wondering when she can make her nephew Chief Minister," Mr Shah had said during one of his visits. "I challenge Amit Shah to let his son enter politics," Ms Banerjee had shot back.