Mamata Banerjee sitting on her dharna at Metro Channel area in Kolkata
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dharna or a sit-down protest entered Day 2 in central Kolkata to "save the constitution" after a huge showdown between the police and officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation on Sunday evening. The CBI officers wanted to question Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar over two Ponzi schemes, but the CBI officials who turned up at Mr Kumar's home were taken to a local police station and allegedly detained. "There is total constitutional breakdown. It is my job to protect my officers," the Chief Minister told reporters on Sunday evening. "They (the BJP) cannot fight is politically. That's why they are resorting to all this... Mr (Ajit) Doval is doing whatever PM wants him to do, he is the one giving all the instructions to CBI," she said.
Many Opposition leaders have also spoken out in support of Ms Banerjee. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had also extended his support for Ms Banerjee. RJD chief Tejashwi Yadav said the state government had to take the move due to "political decisions" the CBI had been taking at the BJP's behest. He also said he may visit Kolkata today.
The CBI officers, who were released later, are planning to meet the Governor. Ms Banerjee is sitting on dharna at the designated spot for protests in Central Kolkata, accompanied by Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar.
Here are the Live Updates of Day 2 of Mamata Banerjee's dharna against CBI investigation of Rajeev Kumar:
DMK leader Kanimozhi while expressing solidarity with Mamata Banerjee, said all the opposition parties should work towards staying united and work towards ensuring "that BJP's dream of returning to power" doesn't get fulfilled.
"I would say that this episode was Modiji's pre-election gift to Mamata Banerjee as the BJP has realised after January 19 rally that they won't return to power after Lok Sabha polls," she said.
Obstructing CBI officers is criminal offence: Union Minister Jitendra Singh
"What is being witnessed in Kolkata is not only unbecoming of a high political functionary like chief minister, but is also a clear violation of the Constitutional propriety and the spirit of law," Jitendra Singh said.
Mr Singh said when the concerned police officer associated with the Special Investigation Team in this case refused to respond to the repeated summons by the CBI to appear for interrogation, the CBI was left with no option but to reach out to him.
CBI vs Mamata: Solicitor General says CBI thought of moving SC Sunday night itselfThe CBI had contemplated moving the Supreme Court on Sunday night itself when the West Bengal Police took into custody agency officials and laid siege to the residence of its Joint Director in Kolkata, but had to abort the plan due to paucity of documents and other reasons, a senior law officer said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that at the last moment it was decided to wait until Monday morning before approaching the top court. "Initially, there was a discussion among the concerned officials in the CBI to move the top court last night itself but it was decided to wait till Monday morning," he told the bench.
West Bengal political leadership created ''unnecessary obstruction'' in CBI probe: Kiren Rijiju
"This is not a face-off for us. This is just that the West Bengal government and the political leadership of the state have created unnecessary obstruction in the way of investigation going on under the direction of the Supreme Court," Mr Rijiju said. "We must follow the norms of any investigating agency and the procedural aspects. We must ensure that the rule of law is prevailed."
Save the Constitution: Tejashwi Yadav
"My uncle Nitish Kumar is a darpok...so he went to BJP. Mamatadi's step must be supported," Tejashwi Yadav
Everyone knows how strong Mamata Banerjee is. BJP wants to scare her. If she joins them, you are Harishchandra. Else you will have cases slapped against you. BJP has no contribution to our independence, our Constitution, they only believe in bunch of thoughts. We have to take a firm decision. If you get scared of them, they will scare again: Tejashwi Yadav
"If CBI director says he is under pressure then u know the situation, there is political conspiracy, if you keep quiet, you will also be victimised," he added.
RJD Leader Tejashwi Yadav with Mamata Banerjee
The Kolkata Police wanted information on the "investigation plan" of the agency officials, who were detained for a few hours at a city police station, a senior CBI officials claimed today.
The CBI official said the Kolkata Police had also refused to acknowledge the request of the CBI seeking cooperation in carrying out its investigation at the residence of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar on Sunday. "Due to deliberate, forceful, physical obstruction caused by the Kolkata police, the CBI could not complete the proceedings and had to return," the agency official said, requesting anonymity.
The CPI(M) today termed as "politically motivated", both CBI's latest move in chit fund scam cases and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's sit-in protest.
"CPI(M) has been demanding swift punishment to the guilty in the Saradha scams, but for so many years CBI under BJP was in slow motion", senior party leader Brinda Karat said.
Union Minister Babul Supriyo accuses Banerjee of shielding ''corrupt'', Demands President Rule in Bengal
"President's Rule should be imposed on West Bengal to control this ''Rogue'' #TMchhi Govt under a corrupt CM Mamta Banerjee. This is a constitutional crisis ''created'' by Mamata to shield her corrupt & tainted accomplices (sic)," Babul Supriyo said in a tweet.
Bengal Finance Minister Attacks Centre For Blatant Interference
West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Monday said the country's federal polity has been shaken due to "blatant interference by the Central government" in the affairs of the statutory constitutional institutions and states.
"The country is passing through a very difficult time. Along with the common people, every institution of the country -- be it CBI, ED, RBI, National Statistical Commission, Supreme Court, GST Council or free press -- is under threat," Mr Mitra told the Assembly.
"If someone is accused without document, without reason I had to protest everyone has self respect. You cannot damage institutions like this like setting one officer against another," Ms Banerjee added.
"Chit funds have existed since 1980 but there was no probe. We caught the guilty from Kashmir. We set up an SIT, we set up a judicial commission. These people call Rajeev Kumar a thief and that I am a thief. Whose money have I stolen? I am ready to give my life for such people. I did not protest when my party people were harassed."
Mamata Banerjee told sources, "The police are our asset. We are proud of them, sometimes they get agitated and we complain about that. But not the amount of the hard work. In all sectors there are good and bad people. Those who say there is no law and order in Bengal.
How many people come for Durga Pujas in Kolkata. There are 1 crore pujas in the city and 48,000 registered. Managing it all is not easy. Has there been a small incident. Those who criticise, they lips should be seales with leukoplast."
Sitaram Yechury on Mamata Banerjee's dharna
"The developments in Kolkata coming within hours after the historic & massive rally at Brigade Parade Grounds by the Left Front is also aimed to divert public attention from the rising protests by the people of West Bengal against both the BJP and the TMC," Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
A high-level BJP delegation submitted a memorandum to the poll panel to highlight instances that show that the TMC does not "believe" in democracy, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was also a member of the group, told reporters.
Besides Ms Sitharaman, the other members of the delegation included Union ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and S S Ahluwalia, and BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, Bhupender Yadav, Anil Baluni and Mukul Roy.
She claimed that the TMC is rattled by the BJP's growth in West Bengal, which is why it is restricting the saffron party's programmes and even not allowing some rallies.
DMK lawmaker Kanimozhi to visit Kolkata this evening.
Visuals from 'Save the Constitution' dharna in Kolkata, as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee goes through documents continuing her routine work as the chief minister:
BJP delegation led by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has gone inside Election Commission. Cabinet Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is also there. They have come to complain that West Bengal Government is denying them right to campaign in the state.
MK Stalin speaks to Mamata Banerjee, slams BJP government. He had yesterday tweeted:
Criticising the "harassment" of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar by the CBI, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the CBI should have first taken permission from the Calcutta High Court and also referred to the full SIT report in the Saradha chit fund scam case.
Talking to ANI, Mr Singhvi said, "I don't want to comment on what the Supreme Court will decide on this. The Calcutta High Court has clearly said that you can't do an investigation like this. You (CBI) should have first taken permission from the High Court. It is an old case. You can call on the full SIT and ask them. They are ready to answer your queries. But just for harassment, if you do this to humiliate the top police official then what will happen?
Mamata Banerjee at the protest: Those questioning why policemen came on stage should know this is not a TMC programme.
Mamata Banerjee sends her MLAs to Assembly for budget.
TMC's Derek O'Brien on the issue:
Rajnath Singh on West Bengal CBI issue in Lok Sabha:
The CBI team went only after Supreme Court order. The police chief waas not co-opearting, the CBI team was overpowered, I have spoken to Governor so that the CBI team is given protection and the WB government should also help co-operate. CRPF teams had to reach yesterday because of the overpowering of the CBI team by police. This is constitutional as we have proceeded only with top court order. There may be constitutional breakdown in West Bengal. The Kolkata Police-CBI face-off was "unfortunate" and stopping CBI from performing duty was "unprecedented."
Here are the main points of the CBI petition:
CBI says 'unprecedented events ' unfolded on 3rd February, 2019
CBI cites Supreme Court 9th June 2014 which transferred of cases registered in different police stations in state of West Bengal and Odisha from the state police to the CBI against the Saradha group of companies and 44 companies.
CBI is investigating these cases under Hostile environment and non-cooperation from stage government
CBI has been conducting inquiry under the directions of the Supreme Court
CBI has found substantial material against Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar
CBI had sent him summons, such summons not responded properly
CBI : It is also alleged that Rajeev Kumar, Police commissioner has been destroying evidence pertaining to the case
CBI : "West Bengal Police had ineffective laid siege around the CBI office in Kolkata"
CBI : Senior police officers are also sitting on dharna along with the Chief Minister , such conduct by officials in uniform points to complete ANARCHY prevailing in Kolkata, outside the residence of the police commissioner
CBI : Mamata Banerjee and senior police officers openly flouting orders of Supreme Court
CBI: West Bengal Police illegally held hostage 25 members of the CBI team in Kolkata
CBI: state government indulging in Undemocratic Hooliganism
CBI: We have substantial material to exercise the power of arrest without warrant and commissioner of police is bound to comply with the rule of the land
Prakash Javadekar, BJP: Why is Mamata Banerjee on dharna? What is it that she is trying to hide? Why is Kolkata top cop supporting the chit fund prime accused? The accused had mentioned red diary, pen drives. Why is Mamata Banerjee running away from inquiry? The probe into chit fund was after Supreme Court order. Her friend Rahul Gandhi's party had filed the PIL, not the Modi government. This mahagathbandhan is divided by region, united by corruption.
Dinesh Trivedi to NDTV: Mamata Banerjee is not going to scared. You must have heard of Jhansi ki Rani...If CBI says the police have destroyed evidence then why did they conduct the raids?
Ministry of Home Affairs to seek a report on the role of IPS officers on allegations of obstructing investigation and violation of Service Conduct Rules in yesterday's incident in Kolkata.
Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena: If Chief Minister of a big state as West Bengal is sitting on dharna, then it is a serious matter. Is this CBI vs Mamata Banerjee or Mamata Banerjee vs BJP, we'll find out soon. If CBI is being misused, it's a matter of dignity of the nation, and prestige of the agency (CBI).
The government asked the court to order Rajeev Kumar to surrender all the evidence he had, expressing the worry that he may try to destroy electronic evidence.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said there is "no evidence that Kolkata police is destroying evidence" and added: "Lay down evidence and we will come down so heavily that he will regret it."The Supreme Court will take up the petition tomorrow.
Appearing for West Bengal government, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the Supreme Court that it is witch hunt by the CBI as the Kolkata police chief is a witness and not an accused in the case. But, the bench told him to keep ready the defences of state government ready tomorrow, when it will hear the case.
"There are some extraordinary circumstances. The CBI Joint Director was held hostage at CBI office yesterday. We apprehend that electronic evidence might be destroyed," the centre's lawyer Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, told the Supreme Court a morning after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched her protest over CBI officers trying to question her police chief.
Akhilesh Yadav on CBI issue in West Bengal: There was CBI row, centre was scared of a CBI director, now they are trying to scare everyone using CBI. Who has misused the institutions? If someone has politicised the institutions, it is BJP.
Mamata Banerjee speaks at sit-in protest:
Modi government has taken away democratic rights. Farming community's sleep has been snatched by the Modi government. Farmers are committing suicides because of centre's policies. To help farmers, Bengal wont take help from centre.
Farooq Abdullah, National Conference on CBI issue in West Bengal: Her (Mamata Banerjee) allegation is right. This country is in danger as its becoming dictatorial. They (Central govt) are not masters of this country, people are.
Tamil Nadu MP Kanimozhi on Monday extended her support to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's sit-in protest over the CBI's attempt to question the Kolkata Police chief in connection with a ponzi scheme scam.
In a tweet, Ms Kanimozhi said: "Anyone who cares for Democracy, Federalism and Constitution must stand with Ms @MamataOfficial."
BJP digs out Rahul Gandhi's tweets on Saradha scam, say he is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder and said, "Get well soon, Rahul ji."
Haryana Minister Anil Vij compared Mamata Banerjee to Taadka, a mythological villain saying she creates problem everywhere. ANI shared the tweeted:
CBI pleas in top court: Supreme Court says CBI permitted to bring the material on record to support its claim that West Bengal Police Commissioner is trying to destroy evidence. Appearing for West Bengal government, senior advocate A M Singhvi told the Supreme Court that it is witch hunt by the CBI as the Kolkata police chief is a witness and not an accused in the case. But, the bench told him to keep ready the defences of state government ready on Tuesday, when it will hear the case.
Karnataka Deputy chief minister G Parameshwara tweeted in support of Mamata Banerjee and also took a shot at PM Modi and his recent Kotler award:
Rajnath Singh called up Governor of West Bengal Keshari Nath Tripathi to be apprised of the facts of the unfortunate and unprecedented situation of officers of a Central Investigating Agency being manhandled, detained, intimidated and obstructed, reports news agency ANI.
Governor apprised him that he had summoned Chief Secretary and Director General of Police and asked them to take immediate action to resolve the situation. MHA is closely monitoring the situation.
BREAKING: Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar "potential accused" in chit fund probe, should surrender evidence, CBI tells Supreme Court amid showdown.
The agency said Rajeev Kumar should surrender evidence. The top court will take up the case tomorrow morning.
The CBI filed a petition in the Supreme Court saying that the Bengal government is obstructing a court-ordered probe into the chit fund scams. The agency alleged destruction of electronic evidence related to Saradha chit fund scam case.
Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar (in grey shirt) leaves from the site of Mamata Banerjee's 'Save the Constitution' dharna after meeting her. The Chief Minister has been back at
the dharna after taking a short break earlier this morning. The dharna began last night.
Rajeev Kumar wrote a letter to former CBI chief Alok Verma:
Two prominent players who did not attend that mega opposition meet, Odisha Chief Minister Navin Patnaik and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, have remained silent in the current controversy. Those close to them say they look at it as a local issue and prefer to stay equidistant from the BJP and the Congress.
The Left, caught between its role as an opposition bloc and its intrinsic conflict with Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, attacked both the BJP and the West Bengal Chief Minister. "This drama in Kolkata by the BJP and TMC (Trinamool) is not a fight for any principle but only to save their corrupt and hide their corruption. CPI(M) has fought both these undemocratic, corrupt, communal and dictatorial regimes in the centre and the state and will continue to do so," tweeted CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury.
Chandrababu Naidu held Teleconference with party leader and condemned the situation in Bengal and expressed solidarity.
"Kolkata rally was successful. That's why these revengeful actions against Ms. Mamata Banerjee. Court cases are being lifted off on those submitting to BJP, but new cases are being put on those opposing BJP.
Recently, cases are put on Akhilesh and Mayawati too.
Saying that Centre-state relations are deteriorating completely, Chandrababu Naidu said BJP gets happiness upon opening new cases against all opposition leaders.
"This is a fall of constitutional institutions. Damage to federal spirit," he said.
The Congress's Karnataka unit too extended its support toeing the party line. It dubbed the Centre's action as anti-democratic and a threat to the federal system of the country.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy also extended support to his West Bengal counterpart Banerjee.
"The Bharatiya Janata Party is using the CBI by filing false cases against officers. It is a clear case of political vendetta. We all stand with the Chief Minister of West Bengal," he tweeted.
The senior Congress leader, who has been criticising the NDA government at the Centre for not earmarking sufficient funds and also for excluding Puducherry from the ambit of the Central Finance Commission all along, said, "Time has come for the Narendra Modi-led Central government to go."
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda has said the massive standoff between the Centre and the West Bengal government over the CBI''s attempt to question the Kolkata Police chief in connection with chit fund scams, reminded him of the Emergency days.
The JD(S) patriarch sympathised with the Bengal government led by Mamata Banerjee and said he was shocked to learn about the CBI rushing to arrest the Kolkata Police Commissioner and the subsequent developments.
Ms Banerjee heads the TMC, a key member of the ''Mahagathbandhan'', the grand alliance, in which the JD(S) is also an active partner.
"I am shocked to learn about the CBI rushing to arrest the Police Commissioner and subsequent developments in West Bengal. The country has faced similar kind of unconstitutional methods during the Emergency. Situation in WB is similar to that of the Emergency days. #SaveDemocracy," the JD(S) national president tweeted.
Hours after Congress president Rahul Gandhi said he stood "shoulder-to-shoulder" with Mamata Banerjee in her fight against the central government for sending CBI officers to question her police chief Rajeev Kumar, his party's top leader in Bengal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, voiced the opposite.
CBI will move Supreme Court this morning with a petition seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against West Bengal Chief Secretary, DGP and Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar for obstructing SC directed probe into chit fund scams by CBI, sources say.
The CBI will also move an application seeking a direction to Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to join investigation into chit fund scams and cooperate in probe, say sources.
Visuals of Mamata Banerjee on stage from Kolkata protests on Day 2:
TMC's Derek O'Brien tweeted a long list of names of leaders across the country who have expressed support to Mamata Banerjee:
Mamata Banerjee had skipped meals and remained awake the entire night on a makeshift dais along with some senior ministers and party members.
Asked if any of the leaders would arrive in the city to meet her, Ms Banerjee said, "I've no idea about that. If someone wants to come, we will welcome them. This fight is not by my party. It is for my government".
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Sunday:
"I spoke with Mamata Di tonight and told her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her. The happenings in Bengal are a part of the unrelenting attack on India's institutions by Mr Modi & the BJP. The entire opposition will stand together & defeat these fascist forces."
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray had tweeted in support of Mamata Banerjee.
A large number of Opposition leaders extended support to Mamata Banerjee with Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy joining in today.
Daring the BJP to impose President's Rule in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee called it a "total constitutional breakdown". "How dare you come to a police commissioner's home without a warrant? Mr (Ajit) Doval is doing whatever PM wants him to do, he is the one giving all the instructions to CBI," Ms Banerjee said, referring to the National Security Advisor.
"This is a Satyagraha and I'll continue till the country is saved," Ms Banerjee said. She spent the night at the designated spot for protests in central Kolkata, accompanied by city police chief Rajeev Kumar. Ms Banerjee skipped meals and remained awake the entire night as she sat on the makeshift dais. She will proceed to the assembly later this morning for the state budget. "We have full confidence in the judiciary, media and the people... If they want to impose President's Rule, we are ready for it," she said.
Rajeev Kumar - who headed a Special Investigation Team probing the Saradha and Rose Valley Ponzi scams of 2013 - was asked to help the investigation after several documents allegedly went missing. He has received several summons for questioning. This time, a section of media reported that he could be arrested for evading questioning and was "absconding". The Kolkata Police said they would take action for the defamatory reports.
The CBI is expected to go to the Supreme Court today, accusing the West Bengal government of impeding a court-ordered probe into the chit fund scams, said the agency's interim boss, M Nageswara Rao. The state government is also likely to appeal to the top court about the issue. The CBI officials are planning to meet West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.
Read more about this here
Here are some visuals of the protest on Day 2, with a large number of people at the venue supporting the West Bengal chief minister:
Apart from Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leader Ahmed Patel, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu also extended support to Mamata Banerjee. A few leaders, including Tejashwi Yadav are said to visit Kolkata today.
Amid the row between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Centre, a BJP delegation will meet the Election Commission today at 12:30 pm. Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Anil Baluni will be a part of this delegation. The BJP delegation seeks to raise complaint over being denied the "democratic right" to campaign for elections.
On Sunday, a row had erupted, when a team of 40 CBI officers turned up at the Park Street home of police chief Rajeev Kumar. The guards stationed there refused them entry and senior police officers rushed to the spot and virtually shepherded the CBI team away from the residence. The CBI officers were taken first to the Park Street police station and then to the local Shakespeare Sarani police station.
Rajeev Kumar was heading the special investigation team probing the Saradha and Rose Valley Ponzi scams that had surfaced in the state in 2013.
Rajeev Kumar was asked to help with the investigation when several key documents of the cases allegedly went missing. CBI sources said he had received several summons for questioning over the last two years.