"For years, the Congress government has used the CBI with a political motive. The BJP is following that sickening path," party spokesperson Derek O'Brien said. (JPN/Agencies)
Earlier in the day, the CBI booked three current and three former Rajya Sabha members and conducted searches at several locations, including their residences.
"We strongly condemn this attitude of using the CBI with the motive of political vendetta against the main opposition parties. In a democratic setup, this is just not done," the TMC MP said.
O'Brien dubbed the move a deliberate attempt to malign and humiliate Bandopadhyay.
"We note with concern and disgust this form of petty politics to malign a gentleman with more than 40 years' copybook public life. His integrity, credibility and honesty for the last four decades have been unquestionable. This is a deliberate attempt to humiliate him,” O'Brien said.
"We will fight this in the way we have fought our battles for the last 35 years - politically and democratically," he added.
Lakhs of rupees are said to have been fraudulently siphoned off from the government through fake leave and travel concession (LTC) claims, availed by government officials to get concessional tickets.
The incident came to light after the vigilance department of Air India (AI) was alerted about the arrest of a man in March at the Kolkata airport with 600 blank boarding passes of the airline in his possession.
CBI books six present, former RS MPs
The CBI has registered cases against six sitting and former members of Rajya Sabha in connection with the Leave Travel Concession (LTC) scam.
CBI sources said that three sitting MPs -- D Bandopadhyay of Trinamool Congress, Brajesh Pathak of BSP and Lalhming Liana of Mizo National Front -- have been named along with some travel agents.
None of three MPs responded to phone calls seeking their reaction while SMSes sent to them, too, remained unanswered.
But TMC leader Derek O'Brien said in a tweet that, "This is a racket run by corrupt travel agencies... my colleague innocent. But we will cooperate to bust travel agency scam."
Former Rajya Sabha MPs JPN Singh (BJP), Mahmood A Madani (Rashtriya Lok Dal) and Renu Pradhan (Biju Janata Dal), too, have been named by the CBI.
CBI sources said that searches are being carried out at 10 places in Delhi and Odisha at the premises of politicians and some travel agents who have been named in the case.
Sources said that the agency has found some more instances of alleged criminality during scrutiny of documents recovered during the first case registered in this connection on November 1 last year.
In the first FIR, CBI booked JD (U) Rajya Sabha MP Anil Kumar Sahani for allegedly siphoning off around Rs 9.5 lakh by presenting fake air tickets and boarding passes.
Besides the MP, an Air India customer service agent Rubaina Akhtar and a Lajpat Nagar-based travel operator Air Cruise Travels Private Ltd were also named in the FIR, which saw LTC claims being forged citing travel on the state-run Air India.
During its analysis of documents, the CBI had found prima facie irregularities in the LTC claims with an intention to maximise personal benefit by scuttling the laid-down norms in collusion with travel agents.
"For years, the Congress government has used the CBI with a political motive. The BJP is following that sickening path," party spokesperson Derek O'Brien said.