Kolkata: Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar on Saturday said she had taken money from Mathew Samuel, the editor and managing director of Narada News, as party donation and claimed she had receipts of the same as well.
This is the first time that Ghosh Dastidar has admitted to having received money meant for party funds to contest election although she refused to divulge further details as the matter is sub-judice.
Speaking to reporters after an event at Barasat Hospital in North 24-Parganas, Ghosh Dastidar said, “Like any other political party that accepts donations to contest elections, I received the money from Mathew Samuel. I have receipts too. I have taken the money as donation and already declared it to the Election Commission (EC).”
She said, “What else I have given and taken cannot be revealed right now because it was a conspiracy and the matter is under investigation and before the court.”
Ghosh Dastidar’s statement came hours after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) summoned BJP leader Mukul Roy in the Narada tapes scam probe. Roy reached the CBI office around 2pm for interrogation — two days after the agency arrested IPS officer SMH Mirza in the case. “As a law-abiding citizen I have come here to assist the investigation. I will continue to do so,” Roy said.
The case relates to a sting operation conducted by Narada News in West Bengal to expose alleged corrupt practices of ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government. The sting was conducted under the supervision of Samuel for a period of two years.
The videos that sent ripples across the political fraternity were released only days ahead of the Assembly elections in the state in 2016. The tapes showed 13 Trinamool Congress ministers, including Ghosh Dastidar, and leaders accepting bribes in return for alleged favours or misuse of official positions.
The Narada case had come at a time when the TMC supremo and her leaders were already under severe criticism from Opposition parties for their alleged involvement in the Saradha chit fund scam. After setting up a fictitious company, Samuel’s team members had approached several TMC ministers seeking favours in return for money.
Prominent leaders seen in the sting tapes were Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, then TMC minister Mukul Roy, MPs Saugata Roy, late Sultan Ahmed, Subhendu Adhikari, Ghosh Dastidar, Aparupa Poddar, Prasun Banerjee, and MLAs Subrata Mukherjee, Sovan Chatterjee, Madan Mitra, Iqbal Ahmed, and former Burdwan superintendent of police SMH Mirza.
On March 17, 2017, the Calcutta High Court ordered a preliminary probe to be conducted by the CBI. The court also directed the CBI to register an FIR against those who were involved in the case, if required.
On April 17, the CBI has filed charge sheet against 13 ministers and other TMC leaders in the case. All of them were booked under Section 120 B of IPC (criminal conspiracy), Section 13 (2), 13 (1D) and Section of 7 of Prevention of Corruption Act.