Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in an outburst today while paying tribute to actor and Trinamool Congress leader Tapas Pal, blamed his death on the central government. She alleged that she had seen "three deaths" because of the centre's "vendetta politics".
Tapas Pal, 61, died of a cardiac arrest in Mumbai yesterday. He faced investigations over his alleged links to the chit fund scam in which several leaders of Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress have been accused.
"The vendetta politics of the central government is condemnable. No one is spared. I have seen three deaths before my eyes because of it," said the Chief Minister.
"The law must take its own course but this humiliation day after day, whisper campaigns...these are finishing off people," she remarked, expressing grief at the actor-politician's death. "I can't even bear to look at Tapas..."
Ms Banerjee listed three deaths that she alleged were "untimely" and driven by harassment by central agencies. Besides Tapas Pal, she named Trinamool MP Sultan Ahmed and another leader, Prasun Banerjee's wife.
Sultan Ahmed, a former union minister investigated in the Narada sting scandal involving bribe-taking caught on camera, died of a cardiac arrest in 2017.
"Today I am forced to say certain things, even if I am told this is politics. Tapas Pal's death has proved how agencies can destroy a person mentally. He was devastated. He was tortured. He probably never realized his crime. He was a number one film star and he was jailed for a year," she said.
Several leaders of the Trinamool Congress, including ministers and MPs, have been investigated or jailed in what are known as "Saradha and Narada".
The Saradha scam was a major financial fraud in which lakhs of small investors were cheated into depositing money with the promise of abnormally high returns. In 2014, Matthew Samuel, the CEO of Narada News, posed as a businessman and filmed Trinamool leaders and officials allegedly taking money.
The BJP targeted Mamata Banerjee over the corruption allegations against her party men.