Hurricane AugustaWestland blowing over the Parliament right now has added one more interesting dimension to the West Bengal Assembly polls.
As the BJP central leadership kept up the heat on Sonia Gandhi — asking her to name the bribe takers in the over Rs 3,500 crore alleged scam — the party's state unit went on the offensive against CPI(M) for cavorting with a 'scam-tainted' Congress. Not to be outdone, the Left Front hit back with equal vitriol, seeking to drive home their charge that the BJP is playing a fixed match with the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Close on the heels of BJP's Bengal minder Sidharth Nath Singh on Thursday ripping apart ex-Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya for sharing the dais and a garland with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the CPI(M) on Friday said for all its anti-corruption stance, the BJP's state unit has been betrayed by none other than the Prime Minister, who has struck a backhand deal with Mamata Banerjee.
"By implication, the Left Front is also supporting corruption," Sidharth Nath Singh had told Firstpost on Wednesday, a few hours before Rahul Gandhi's chopper landed on the Park Circus Maidan for the historic rally.
"When Buddhababu, who is perceived to be an honest leader, holds Rahul Gandhi's hands, he should ask him how on earth did you get entangled in yet another scam. And he should reflect on how it affects his own party," Singh had said.
Later on Thursday during a media conference, Singh reiterated the charge, posing five questions before the septuagenarian CPIM leader:
- Isn't it true that you are considered one of the honest politicians of Bengal?
- Did your party attack the Congress on corruption charges for the 2G, coalgate and CWG scams?
- Did you not withdraw support from the UPA on nuclear deal and corruption issues?
- Do you agree that in the AgustaWestland scam, Gandhi's name along with other Congress leaders have appeared in the recent Italian appellate court (equivalent to high courts) judgment, amounting to high-level corruption?
- When you held the hand of the Congress, what was the real feeling? Was it the hand of development or the hand of corruption?
Responding to the charges, CPIM MP Mohammad Salim said: "Buddhababu can never be tainted by scams because he is incorruptible."
Speaking to Firstpost on Friday, the CPIM politburo member even suggested that Singh is looking at Buddhadeb Bhattacharya for leadership having been let down by his bosses in Delhi.
"I admire Sidharth Nath ji for his stance against Mamata Banerjee and her corrupted regime. But he has been badly let down by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. He is looking at Buddhadeb Bhattacharya for leadership to oust Trinamool Congress. Modi and Shah have failed him.
"It is good that Sidharth ji recognises the honesty of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya but he must know that not only is Buddhababu not corrupted, he is incorruptible. Mr Singh still doesn't have the maturity to question the political acumen of Buddhababu," said Md Salim.
Mindful of the fact that the AugustaWestland scam may present a ready weapon in Mamata Banerjee's hands who will surely use it to skewer Left Front's alliance with Congress, the CPIM leader was quick to distance his party from the controversy.
"Left has always remained vocal against corruption. And we shall remain so in the future. But the BJP lost the moral right to question anyone on graft when it decided to play ball with TMC on Sarada and Narada. Rajnath Singh held a rally in the state yesterday but remained silent on the Narada scam," said Md Salim.
"Before asking Buddhababu on an alliance with Congress, Singh must ask his central leadership why they are so keen on the Bengal CM," Salim said.
Offence is the best defence. In cricket and also perhaps in politics.