High drama unfolded in the city of Kolkata on Monday afternoon when West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee staged a dharna outside the office of the country's top federal probe agency in protest against the "illegal" arrest of two of her senior ministers in connection with a cash-for-favours scam.
The two ministers -- Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee -- were picked up by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and federal security forces from their houses earlier in the day for their alleged role in the Narada tapes scandal.
A legislator of Mamata's ruling Trinamool Congress party, Madan Mitra, and a former Mayor of Kolkata, Sovan Chatterjee, have also been arrested in the case. Sovan left the Trinamool in 2019 to join India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, but quit the saffron outfit days before the assembly polls.
"The way they have been arrested without due procedure, CBI will have to arrest me also," the firebrand Bengal Chief Minister said at the CBI office.
The arrest of the two serving Ministers as well as the two former ministers -- Madan and Sovan served in Mamata's previous government -- comes just days after Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar approved the CBI's plea to prosecute the four accused in the Narada tapes scandal.
"Governor accorded sanction for prosecution... being the appointing authority of ministers @MamataOfficial under article 164 and thus competent authority," the Governor tweeted on May 9.
The Narada scandal was a sting operation carried out by a journalist that caught on tape several ministers and senior officials of the erstwhile Mamata government accepting cash bribes in exchange for doling out unofficial favours to a private firm looking to set up business in Bengal.
Earlier this month, Mamata scripted history by single handedly pulling off an astounding victory in the assembly election. She not only defied anti-incumbency and staved off a huge challenge from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP, but also decimated the Left Front.
Though her party swept back to power with a resounding majority of 213 seats in the 292-member assembly, the 66-year-old lost her own seat in Nandigram to her former protege-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari by a thin margin of around 2,000 votes.
"This is Bangla's win... this is Bengal's win... this is your win. This win has saved Bengal, it has saved the culture and tradition of Bengal," she said, addressing a press meet on the counting day.
Mamata had, however, made it clear in that presser only that she would challenge the result in a court of law. "How come the Election Commission reversed the results in Nandigram after formally announcing it? We will move court."
The BJP though has made major gains in Bengal, winning some 77 seats. In 2016, the party had just three legislators in the state. However, the Left Front has failed to grab a single seat this time. The Left Front ruled Bengal for 34 years -- from 1977 to 2011.
Bengal witnessed the most high-profile contest in India's recently held state elections. While Mamata harped on being Bengal’s daughter, the BJP asked people to vote for "change and socio-economic development" after 50 years of Communist and Trinamool Congress rule.