The arrest of former TMC MP KD Singh on Wednesday has led to a debate whether it is because of the ongoing tussle between the BJP which is making a determined bid for power in West Bengal and the ruling TMC or purely in connection with a money laundering case. Significantly Singh had been called for questioning by ED in Delhi along with some officials from Alchemist Group. While other officials were asked to leave at night on January 12, Singh was asked to wait and later arrested and sent to judicial custody till January 16 by Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Those observing the political scene in West Bengal know that both BJP and TMC have been making tall claims. While BJP has argued that the party will win over 200 seats in the 294 seat Assembly, strategist for TMC, Prashant Kishor has declared that he would quit his profession if the former party crosses double digits. Every day we keep hearing about clashes between the workers of the two parties. It was only sometime back that BJP’s National President JP Nadda’s convoy was allegedly attacked in the State while they were on way to attend a meeting at Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas. Nadda was quoted as saying that “There isn’t a car in our convoy which was not attacked. I am safe because I was travelling in a bulletproof car. This state of lawlessness and intolerance in West Bengal has to end. Mukul Roy and Kailash Vijayvargiya were injured in the attack. It is a shame on democracy”.
In the year 2021, five states are going for Assembly elections but the most fierce battle is expected in West Bengal given the BJP’s bid to gain power in the State for the fist time in history. With every by-election in West Bengal since 2016, the BJP has gained in vote share at the cost of the Left Front. This vote shift from the Left to the BJP peaked in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, with the BJP winning 18 of the 42 seats in the State. The BJP’s vote share shot up from about 10% in 2016 to over 40% in 2019, with the Left Front’s vote share collapsing from 27% to 7.5%, the Congress’s vote share declining by nearly 7%, and the TMC’s by about 2%.
Coming to the arrest of former TMC MP KD Singh if it is the fall out of political tussle between BJP and TMC and if Singh has been made a scapegoat to “discredit” the party, TMC MP Saugata Roy was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to comment. Neither is KD Singh with the TMC anymore nor he is a MP now.” Senior Trinamool leader Sougata Roy said the party has no connection with KD Singh now. Roy said, “I hope the Enforcement Directorate has acted according to the law — that is, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. We should ensure that the CBI and the ED are not misused. But at the same time they have their rights. They have their powers according to the law.” Asked if there was a misuse of powers by the two agencies, Roy said, “I am not apprehensive but I know the BJP is not above using the CBI and the ED for political purposes. We are not apprehensive, we are political people and we will face whatever comes to us”.
The case dates back to 2016 the ED filed a criminal case against Alchemist Infra Realty Limited under the PMLA taking cognizance of a charge sheet filed against the company, its directors and others by SEBI. As per the information, Singh was its chairman till 2012 and is currently its Chairman Emeritus.