Investigated and Written by Mathew Samuel & Angel Abraham
Five years ago, India’s eastern state of West Bengal was witnessing a revolution of sorts. People disenchanted with the over three-decade rule of the Left parties saw Mamata Banerjee, as their savior. The activists of the anti-corruption movement saw her as a beacon of hope, for a nation plagued by corruption and nepotism. Mamata’s pitch for probity in public life found resonance with the common man’s aspiration for a corruption free government.
Her unrelenting campaign paid off. And she and her Trinamool Congress or TMC rode to power with a historic mandate. But the euphoria of the new government soon began to fade.
Mamata government was beleaguered by the Sarada chit fund scam in which prominent leaders of her TMC were involved. This compelled us to visit the corridors of power in Bengal.
Our investigations, spread over two years, laid bare the fact that, far from being transparent, both Mamata’s government as well as her party, the TMC, is run by perhaps the most corrupt elements in the country. What we recorded on camera is shocking…
Here almost all leaders of TMC were found willing to flout any rule of the state for a bundle of cash.
We started our investigation before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Despite the alleged involvement in the Sarada chit fund scam, TMC was projected to be a clear winner in most of the Lok Sabha. This was despite allegations that the Mamata government was protecting some of the accused in the Sarada scam.
The way in which chief minister Mamata Banerjee came out in defence of a senior police officer Syed M H Mirza was very telling.
She took on the independent Election Commission against Mirza’s transfer from Burdwan district. Our investigations took off from there.
We formed a fictitious company -Impex Consultancy- and approached several ministers and Trinamool leaders to seek favours for the company. This was an attempt to unravel what is happening behind closed doors.
We also met Mirza. The senior police official was very forthcoming and ‘business friendly’. He acknowledged that he is a key person who collects funds for the Trinamool Congress. He even claimed that he is the most trusted lieutenant of former railway minister Mukul Roy. Mukul was the chief lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee.
Mirza’s claims led us to the house of Mukul Roy. He was not willing to take money from us directly. He told us to go to his office.
Mirza : Mukul da is very frank with me,
MS : For deals and everything?
Mirza : I have already arranged 60 for him. Besides this 60.When we met in the morning, he just woke up. He woke up with my call only.
Mirza : I was trying to call him since 8, Two missed calls, I have sent an SMS then. Another chap had gone then.
MS : Yes. I have seen you with one brief case
Mirza : But he refused to take. He told Just go to Mirza. Keep it there, i will take from there.
Mirza :It is not advised to keep such hard cash with me
MS : He is scared of some enforcement raid, right?
Mirza : Thats why he was saying now that election is there now only that enforcement raid. And rather than expenditure is there, it matters. This expenditure observer , if they got a clue or something this party will be wiped out. This party will go for a sixer
This recording was done when Mukul was the second in command of the party. His office was full of people. We could not record there, due to the frisking, before entering his office.
Mukul: Go immediately. And Talk to Mirza Only (05:28 to 05:54)
I have already spoken to Mirza. We will be friends. And then You should go to Burdwan. Talk to my SP. Mirza. He will keep the relation between me and you. Everything can be communicated through Mirza.
Mukul Roy : You can go and talk to Mirza. Go, I have informed Mirza. He is here somewhere. Call him before going, You can go and give it to Mirza
Mukul : Give it to My office. Iam not taking it straight away. I will tell my men, so you give it to them
MS: Your office, where exactly?
Mukul : 61 Elgin Road, Come after an hour, Its just near to this read
MS: I have 20 lakhs, I will go to your office and will give
You will be there no?
Mukul : Yes, I will be there
Mamata Banerjee many a times used to flaunt her association with Subrarta Mukherjee. Now Minister for Panchayat and Rural Development, Mamata considers Subrata as her mentor.
But we saw the true nature of the mentor. He was very eager to help us in any way, of course, after pocketing all the money offered to him.
MS: Sir, this is 4. I will give the one later
Subrata : Ok
Former Union Minister and Member of Parliament Sultan Ahmed is the Muslim face of the party. But above all he is considered to be the Mr Clean of Bengal politics. We witnessed what lies behind the carefully constructed image of honesty and integrity, when we met Sultan Ahmed to seek favours from the state government and his party.
He had no qualms in offering any help after receiving the money we offered.
MS: I will give 5 but you have to do our work. Sir, arranging money was too difficult because of the strike. Yesterday and today, arranging money was too difficult and election is very near.
Sultan : Everyday there is more expenditure
MS: You want more?
Sultan : If you have
MS: I will give 5 more. But sir you have to give our work also
Sultan : My assistance is there for whatever you do
We have about 52 hours of footage of this operation. What we understood after analyzing it again and again is that all levels of the leadership of the Trinamool Congress were more than willing to side step the norms, circumvent laws to extend illegal help to those who offer money.
1) MH Ahmed Mirza(Senior police officer) – 5 Lakh
2) Mukul Roy(former union and railway minister) – 20 Lakh
3) Subrata Mukherjee(Minister for panchayat and rural dvpt) – 5 Lakh
4) Sultan Ahmed(former union minister and MP) – 5 Lakh
5) Sugata Roy(former union minister) – 5 Lakh
6) Suvendhu Adhikari(TMC youth wing president) – 5 Lakh
7) Kakoli Ghosh Dastikar(political leader) – 4 Lakh
8) Prasoon Banerjee(MP) – 4 Lakh
9) Suvon Chatterjee(Mayor of kolkata) – 5 Lakh
10) Madan Mitra(former minister of transport) – 5 Lakh
11) Iqbal Ahmed( Member of west Bengal assembly) – 5 Lakh
12) Farhad hakim(Minister of urban dvpt) – 5 Lakh
Sugata Roy was a Physics professor and national science talent search scholar before he entered politics. He was a former minister in the Manmohan Singh government and is party’s face on national television. But Sugata Roy’s scholarship did not deter him from accepting the bribe given for providing Impex Consultancy all help.
MS: This is four, this is 1000.. Total Five lakhs
Roy : You are Impex
MS: Impex consultancy
Roy : And your name is?
MS : Santosh Shankaran
Sukhanto Adhikari is known as the young turk of the TMC. The new generation leader was agreed to help Impex Consultancy for a few bundle of currency notes.
MS: Five lakh rupees sir
Sukhanto : Ok
The second most important women leader in Trinamool Congress after Mamata is Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar. A doctor by profession, Kakoli Ghosh is a member of the Parliament. Her husband is minister in the Mamata cabinet. Kakoli and former football player and MP Prasoon Banerjee were also willing to dole out favours for money.
MS: Anything more?
Kakoli : Nothing at the moment
Sovan Chatterjee is an important leader and very close to Mamata Banerjee’s family. The Mayor of Kolkata, after receiving money, promised to introduce us to all the power centres. He also offered us all help as the Mayor of Kolkata.
MS : Four lakh rupees. Tomorrow i will give five lakhs
Sovan : For these many years, I have got dollars
MS: Just introduce me
Sovan : After the election, i can introduce
Madan Mitra, former minister in the Mamata cabinet, was forced to resign after the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI arrested him for his involvement in the Sarada Chit fund scam. We met him before his involvement in the scam came out in the open. His lust for money was very evident when we approached him…..
MS: Total five lakhs.
Madan : Keep the money aside. Just go to that. Come here and open that shelf
Karan Sharma, Trinamool Congress youth wing or Yuva President, is a close aide and confidante of Abhisek Banerjee, the nephew of Mamata Banerjee
Karan Sharma and his partner Sujoy Krishna met us at Abhishek’s plush office. They assured us all of our work would be done through Abhishek and Mamata.
Sujoy : There will be an official sitting, today im sitting here unofficially. This office is empty, nobody is there. we will sit officially
Karan : You are looking for the right man, he is the right hand, Iam telling you. Because there are many people who coming to bannerjee looking for help. Whenever there is anything that involves the benefit of the state. You can say he is the seasoned spokesperson . He is the right hand. You can always speak to Mr. Basu and he will help you
Sujoy : After sitting with you i will organise the meeting with Ministers and from there you will get positive response
Iqbal Ahmed, Member of the West Bengal Assembly, who raises funds for himself and the Trinamool, took five lakhs or five hundred thousand Indian rupees from us, when we met him at his residence.
Iqbal Ahmed, MLA, took five Lakh from us when we met him at his residence.
MS : Two, Three, four, five are you seeing the currency. 1000/-, 500/-
Iqbal : Please give Subrata Mukherjee’s You have to pay him one lakh
Firhad Hakkim, the Urban development minister is another leader with a clean image.
Also called Bobby Hakkim, Firhad Hakkim turned out to be a tough negotiator. He said he was not interested in peanuts and took nothing less than five lakhs. We paid him what he demanded.
Farhad : We dont deal with peanuts. What would be left for kids if we deal with small stuffs?. Don’t even touch that
Shanku Pandey, who is most often seen with Mamata, is the leader of the TMC Chathra Parishad or Student wing. When we approached him, his demand was outrageous.
He wanted a stake in all the projects that our fictitious company would begin in Bengal. He says for him politics is business.
As Bengal prepares for the next election, it’s time to take stock of the situation. Did Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress which rode to power on the common man’s urge for change, live up to their expectations? Or did TMC betray their historic mandate?
X-Files is an attempt to lay bare what happens in the corridors of power. It is also an attempt to show, how a few wads of currency can get things moving faster in India’s eastern state of West Bengal.
Five years ago, people of West Bengal changed the course of history.
It’s again at a threshold. Will the people of Bengal script another change?
With Inputs from : Nidhin Chanadran, Akshay Kumar and Shyju Marathumpally
Technical Support : Radhakrishnan TD and Biju Mathew