Kolkata, June 25 : Saradha and Narada scam accused senior Trinamool Congress leader Madan Mitra has courted political controversy by claiming that his parole plea was declined 43 times by the Mamata Banerjee government during his 22 months in prison between 2014-2016, saying many of his party colleagues were spared from "bearing the burden of CBI" in spite of being named in various corruption cases.
Mitra, once a minister in Mamata Banerjee's cabinet, triggered speculation about his political career by saying that he stood at the crossroads and that all roads were open to him.
"The CBI had arrested and took me in its custody for 22 months. When I fought the election in 2016, I appealed 43 times for parole but it was not sanctioned. I was told that my parole was denied by the Election Commission, but later I found out that it is up to the state government to sanction the parole as law and order is a state subject," said Mitra.
"My applications for parole were deliberately suppressed by the state correctional services department," Mitra alleged during a Facebook live session.
"As a result, I had to fight the election from inside the prison. Still I could have won had I got just 1,800 votes more. Maoist leader Chatradhar Mahato once told me that he was given 15 days' parole in spite of being tagged as a terrorist. But I was not given that privilege," he said.
Taking a swipe at fellow Trinamool Congress leaders, Mitra said many of them have been accused by the CBI in a number of corruption cases such as the Saradha chit fund scam or Narada sting operation case, but did not have to go to prison like him.
"Many leaders of our party -- Subhendu Adhikari, Aparupa Poddar, Firhad Hakim, Sougata Roy -- have CBI charges against them. But they did not have to bear the burden of the CBI... I was made the scapegoat," he said.
"When my parole was denied, Mamata Banerjee had already taken over as the chief minister and also had the state Home Department portfolio. But maybe, even she did not know that I was not given parole by her department," Mitra said.
The former state transport minister, who fought in the Bhatpara assembly by-election in 2019 but lost to BJP MP Arjun Singh's son Pawan Singh, claimed he got more votes in the assembly segments than party's Lok Sabha candidate Dinesh Trivedi during the 2019 elections.
"Dinesh Trivedi trailed in the assembly segment by 31,000 votes while I lost the by-election by 21,500 votes. So I got close to 9,500 votes more than Trivedi in spite of him being a local resident and a long time MP in the area. But there is no assessment of this result within the party," he alleged.
"I'm standing at the crossroads and all the roads are open to me," he said.
Mitra, however, said he has no plans to switch loyalty.
"I am a dedicated Trinamool Congress soldier and will continue to be so. I will not desert the party like many others have done. But there should be a thorough discussion on certain issues. The situation is getting worse," he said.
"Many people have been benefitted by selling the Nandigram issue. But I did not have to do that. I fought and won the election in 2011 with the Trinamool Congress' emblem. Many people are underestimating me," he added.