West Bengal Congress spokesperson Koustav Bagchi was granted bail by a Kolkata court on Saturday evening, barely hours after police arrested him for his alleged comments against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
He has been granted bail by a city court on a personal bond of Rs 1,000. The arrest assumed significance as it came just a couple of days after CPI (M) backed-Congress candidate Bayron Biswas wrested the Sagardighi seat from the ruling Trinamool Congress in a bypoll. Bagchi was booked under several sections of the IPC including 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) among other provisions, police said.
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Arrested in wee hours
A large team of police swooped down on the Congress leader’s Barrackpore residence in the wee hours of Saturday and arrested him based on a complaint lodged against him at Burtolla police station on Friday for his alleged comments against the chief minister.
The arrest sparked protests by Congress supporters across the state even as all the Opposition parties, including the BJP, lambasted the TMC government for the police action. Bagchi, himself a lawyer, at a press conference on Friday quoted some excerpts from a book on the chief minister.
Retaliated attack on leadership
Dipak Ghosh, a former bureaucrat and once a trusted aide of Banerjee, in his book published in 2016 made some derogatory personal attacks against the TMC supremo. Bagchi threatened to circulate the copies of the book while reacting sharply to “personal attacks” TMC supremo made against state congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury after her party’s Sagardighi defeat.
Banerjee had claimed that she knew a lot about the suicide of Chowdhury’s daughter and the death of his driver. “Don’t force me to open my mouth.” Though Chowdhury did not comment on the TMC chief’s remark, Bagchi hit back with the excerpts from the book stating that he would circulate the soft copies of it.
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Arresting him for the remarks, the police had sought his remand for 8 days. Bagchi’s advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who is also a CPI (M)’s Rajya Sabha member, said the charges against the Congress leader were untenable as the book he had referred to is not banned in the state.
‘Will give political mileage to Cong’
Many even in the TMC believe that the police action will give political mileage to the Congress. TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh in a Facebook post said the arrest was a wrong move. Stating that his party could have dealt the Kaustav-episode politically, Ghosh said it would give him undue publicity and provide the Opposition an opportunity to play “dirty” politics over the issue.