Pol pot heats up in Bengal with CBI questioning TMC MP's wife; WB police arresting BJP leader in drugs case

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(Combining related stories) Kolkata, Feb 23 (PTI) The Kolkata police Tuesday night arrested BJP leader Rakesh Singh from Purba Bardhaman district in connection with a drugs case, a development seen as the state government's strong reply to the CBI questioning TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee's wife in a coal pilferage case.

The police also arrested two sons of Rakesh Singh, BJP's West Bengal committee member, after three-hour long search operation at his Orphanganj residence in the city's port area.

Singh, who is known to be a close aide of party's national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, has been accused by the arrested state secretary of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) Pamela Goswami in the drugs case.

Goswami was arrested along with a friend, Prabeer Kumar Dey, and her personal security guard from south Kolkatas New Alipore area Friday following seizure of around 90 gm of cocaine.

The Kolkata police on Monday had issued summons to Singh in connection with its investigation into the drugs case.

A posse of police personnel went to Singh's residence during the day, but they were stopped by his family members from entering the house.

But, after the Calcutta High Court Tuesday dismissed Singh's petition praying for quashing of a notice by the police to appear before it in connection with a drugs case, the house doors were opened and the policemen went inside.

The fast-paced development came on a day when the CBI went to TMC Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee's residence here to question his wife Rujira Banerjee in connection with the coal pilferage scam.

Abhishek Banerjee is nephew of the chief minister, and this is the first instance of Mamata Banerjee's relative being questioned in a graft case.

Mamata Banerjee visited her nephew's residence on Harish Mukeherjee Road in south Kolkata minutes before the CBI team landed there.

The two events- CBI questioning Rujira and Kolkata police arresting the BJP leader in the drug case- are the latest flashpoint between the TMC and the BJP ahead of the Bengal assembly polls expected in April-May this year.

Singh had moved the Calcutta High Court through his lawyers seeking a stay on and quashing of the notice by the police to appear before it Tuesday as a witness in the case.

His lawyers submitted that at least 26 cases have been lodged against him after he joined the BJP and claimed that he was being hounded because of his political affiliation.

Appearing for the state of West Bengal, Advocate General Kishore Datta submitted that 56 cases were pending against Singh before he joined the said political party and that there was no political connection in the matter.

Hearing both the parties, Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya dismissed Singh's petition.

Singh had earlier told police that he was travelling to Delhi for some work and would appear before them on February 26 after his return to the city.

But, once he failed to get any relieve from the Calcutta High Court, the police intensified action against him and arrested him from Galsi in Purba Bardhaman district tonight.

The two incidents increased political temperature in the poll-bound Bengal, triggering a war of words between the rivals.

The ruling Trinamool Congress called interrogation of Abhishek's wife as 'political vendetta' by BJP, while the saffron party leaders maintained that the law was taking its own course.

Likewise, Rakesh Singh's arrest triggered a political storm with the BJP accusing the TMC of pursuing vendetta politics.

'This is clear case of political vindictiveness. But, we have full faith in the judiciary,' BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said.

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, however, termed the allegations as 'baseless' and said the law should be allowed to take its own course.

'Like the BJP we don't use agencies to settle political scores..let the law takes its own course,' Ghosh said. PTI SCH AMR PNT SNS SNS