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IANS

Former minister of the West Bengal Cabinet and suspended Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee has apparently told interrogators that everybody in the party, including the top leadership, knew about the money collected from ineligible candidates to get them jobs as school teachers. According to an investigator, Partha Chatterjee has started speaking after losing his ministerial berths and being suspended from the party.

"He claims that he was just the custodian. He never asked for any money neither accepted any from candidates. There was a party diktat and he was following orders. He was supposed to sign documents prepared by others. The money was also collected by others and sent to him. He had been instructed to keep the money in safe custody. Hundreds of crores were later taken away for 'party' use. Only a fraction of the sum was confiscated. This is what he has revealed so far," an official said.

Partha Chatterjee has been an MLA for over two decades. Some even claim that he was among the Congress leaders in the early 90s who mentored Mamata Banerjee. He has been a close associate of the late Subrata Mukherjee and never faced the kind of humiliation or physical and mental pressure that he is undergoing on Saturday at the age of 70. No wonder, he is speaking up.

"Partha Chatterjee now claims that the party earned money by selling jobs in other departments as well. This culture goes back to the days before the Trinamool Congress came to power in West Bengal. People allegedly got railway jobs by paying money. He has also mentioned a certain office in Majerhat where these deals were struck. Partha Chatterjee claims that the party took so long to take a decision about his fate as other leaders were cleaning up their homes. Once this was over, they washed their hands off, leaving him to fend for himself," another ED official said.

Lawyers say that Partha Chatterjee is an accused and whatever he says has to be backed by corroborative evidence. His mere knowledge as former secretary general of the party won't help. About the role played by Arpita Mukherjee, Partha Chatterjee has maintained that she is somebody he was trying to help in building a career in modelling and films. He has admitted that he required a front to stash the cash that he allegedly held for the party. In lieu of her 'services', certain concessions had to be granted.

Partha Chatterjee has claimed that many other top leaders dropped by at properties purchased in Arpita Mukherjee's name. However, these are mere allegations that will have to be proved before a court of law.

The ED is taking no chances as any wrong move could bring the present case against Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee crashing down.

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