Trinamool Congress accuses the BJP government of political vendetta

The Trinamool Congress on Friday accused the Union Government of using the CBI for “political vendetta” after the agency booked one of its parliamentarians among six sitting and former Rajya Sabha MPs for reimbursement through forged bills.

The CBI has filed an FIR against three sitting and three former MPs in what has come to be termed the Fake LTC (Leave Travel Concession) scam. Brajesh Pathak of the BSP, D Bandhopadhyay of the TMC and Lalhming Liana of the Mizo National Front are the three sitting MPs named in the FIR.

The FIR also mentions three former MPs — JPN Singh of the BJP, Mahmood A Madani of the Rashtriya Lok Dal and Renu Bala Pradhan of the BJD. CBI officials said searches are on at 10 different locations in Delhi and Odisha. These include the premises of persons named in the FIR as well as some travel agents.

Fake boarding passes

The FIR says the MPs claimed full payment on companion air tickets from the Rajya Sabha Secretariat using fake e-tickets for travelling by Air India flight.

Sources said the CBI found some more instances of alleged criminality when documents recovered during the first case registered in this connection on November 1 last year were scrutinised. In the first FIR in the LTC scam, the CBI booked JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP Anil Kumar Sahani for allegedly drawing around ₹9.5 lakh by presenting fake air tickets and boarding passes.

Besides the MP, an Air India customer service agent, Rubaina Akhtar, and a Lajpat Nagar, Delhi-based travel operator, Air Cruise Travels Pvt Ltd, were also named in the FIR. The LTC claims were forged citing travel on Air India.

The CBI had found prima facie irregularities in the LTC claims with an intention to maximise personal benefit by scuttling the norms in collusion with travel agents. The scam came to light after Air India’s vigilance department was alerted about the arrest of a man at Kolkata airport in March 2013 with 600 blank boarding passes of the airline in his possession.

Leader maligned

The TMC, which is also being targeted by the BJP for alleged violence in the Lok Sabha polls, reacted sharply to veteran party leader Bandhopadhyay being “maligned” for political reasons.

“For years, the Congress government has used the CBI with a political motive. The BJP is following that sickening path,” said Trinamool parliamentarian and spokesperson Derek O’Brien.

“We strongly condemn this attitude of using the CBI with the motive of political vendetta against the main opposition parties. In a democratic set-up, this is just not done. We will fight this in the way we have fought our battles for the last 35 years — politically and democratically,” added O’Brien.

(This article was published on June 13, 2014)
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