Former West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee, tainted in the multi-crore West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment irregularities scam, has started denying close association with his close aide and purported partner in crime, Arpita Mukherjee.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) sources said this has happened since Thursday evening when the central agency sleuths started questioning the two together by placing them face to face.
When the two interrogating ED sleuths asked Chatterjee whether he knew Mukherjee, the former Minister said he had seen her at times at a community Durga Puja with which he had been associated for a long time.
After that Chatterjee clearly said that apart from those occasional meetings, he did not have any close association with her.
When the interrogating ED officials asked him whether he was aware that huge cash had been recovered from Mukherjee's residence, he just said that he was aware of it.
However, he immediately denied any association with the recovered money and also denied having any knowledge about the source and ownership of the cash.
ED officials were quite surprised over this stance of Chatterjee.
"There are enough documents and evidence which proves the close association between the two. The most important evidence on this count are the 31 insurance policies in the name of Arpita Mukherjee and in all these policies the nominee is Partha Chatterjee. Still, he is denying the close association with her and that too in an extremely cold voice," an ED official said.
He also confirmed that there were marks of astonishment in the facial expression of Mukherjee, while the former minister was delivering the cold denial.
However, she did not protest.
ED sources said that while the duo will be presented at a special court of Public Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Kolkata on Friday afternoon, they will inform the court on how Chatterjee is not cooperating in every stage of interrogation.
The BJP's state spokesman in West Bengal, Samik Bhattacharya said that by going in the denial mode, Chatterjee will neither be able to protect himself nor his close aide nor his higher ranks in the party.
Trinamool Congress leaders have however, refrained from making any comment till the time the report was filed.