The Central Bureau of Investigation is waiting for the Lok Sabha speaker's nod to prosecute four political leaders in the Narada sting case, including Bharatiya Janata Party's Suvendu Adhikari -- who was a Trinamool Congress MP when the tapes surfaced -- one of its senior officials said on Tuesday, scotching allegations of biasness levelled against the agency by several quarters.
The probe agency had on Monday arrested two state ministers -- Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee -- MLA Madan Mitra and former party leader Sovan Chatterjee in connection with its probe into the sting operation, which purportedly caught politicians accepting bribes on camera.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had recently granted sanction to prosecute the four leaders, following which the agency finalised its charge sheet and moved to arrest them.
The CBI has "sought permission from the Lok Sabha Speaker to prosecute Suvendu Adhikari, Saugata Roy, Prasun Banerjee and Kakali Ghosh Dastidar", who were all TMC MPs when the operation was allegedly conducted, the official explained.
"We are yet to get a sanction in the matter," he said, further clarifying that another political heavyweight Mukul Roy, who had also quit the TMC and joined the BJP in 2017, does not feature in the list.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, following Monday's arrest, had claimed that Adhikari and Roy were spared by the CBI as they have joined the BJP.
"It's clear that Suvendu and Mukul were kept out of this... as they now happen to be BJP members. We, however, have faith in the judiciary and the truth will come out soon," Ghosh had asserted.
Echoing him, another TMC MLA, Tapas Roy, said the BJP government at the Centre was trying to "exact revenge" after having lost the just-concluded assembly elections.
Narada News portal editor Mathew Samuel, who claimed to have conducted the sting operation in 2014, had also sought to know why no action was taken against Adhikari.
"I believe the investigation should be fair. This is the tip of the iceberg. We have to move against corruption. We have to face and challenge it," Samuel said.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose among others raised similar questions.
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, on his part, stated that the CBI action at this juncture, when Bengal is battling the COVID-19 surge, is "extremely unfortunate".
The Calcutta high court had ordered a CBI probe into the Narada sting operation in March, 2017.
The agency subsequently registered cases against 12 TMC leaders, including the four arrested, and an IPS officer.
One of the accused, former Lok Sabha MP Sultan Ahmed, died in September 2017.