TMC hits back after BJP releases tape of Mamata ‘cajoling’ Suvendu aide to help win Nandigram
In retaliation for the accusation, the TMC also released an audio tape accusing BJP leader Mukul Roy of discussing how to 'influence' the EC with party member Shishir Bajoria
Kolkata: A controversy erupted on Saturday amid the polling for 30 Assembly seats in West Bengal, with the BJP releasing an audio clip where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is purportedly heard cajoling a saffron party leader from Nandigram to rejoin the TMC and help
her win the seat.
The state's ruling TMC reacted sharp and quick, also releasing audio tape where BJP national vice president Mukul Roy is allegedly heard telling industrialist and party leader Shishir Bajoria about how to influence the poll panel.
Mamata is pitted against her former protege and current BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram, the seat which was the spring board that propelled her to power in 2011, dislodging the Left Front government after a 34-year unbroken rule.
A BJP delegation, led by party general secretary and Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya, met the state's chief electoral officer and handed over the tape, claiming Mamata was misusing her official position to influence the outcome of the bitterly-contested Assembly poll.
The ruling TMC questioned the genuineness of the audio tape, but asserted that since Pralay Pal was a former TMC leader who switched over to the BJP, there was nothing wrong with the chief minister trying to woo him back.
Hours later, the TMC released to media an audio clip of the purported conversation between Roy and Bajoria. Roy is heard telling Bajoria to convince the Election Commission to allow polling agents, even from outside a given constituency, to be function at all polling stations.
Polling agents of parties, under the existent rules, are allowed only at booths in localities where they normally reside.
"See, we have to include this point while meeting the EC. We have to say that this rule that polling agents can only be deputed in their localities should be changed. The only criteria should be that the person is a citizen of the state. The BJP won't be able to have its agents in a large number of booths otherwise," Roy purportedly told Bajoria.
The TMC reacted angrily, with its spokesperson Kunal Ghosh insisting the audio clip had "blown the lid off" the nexus between the BJP and the Election Commission.
Earlier in the day, Pal, who pledged his allegiance to the Adhikari family, whose two members are still TMC Lok Sabha MPs, claimed Mamata personally called him up and asked for help to win the Nandigram seat.
"You should help us win Nandigram. Look, I know you have some grievances, but that's due mostly to the Adhikaris who never allowed me to get into Nandigram or East Midnapore. I will take care of everything henceforth," she purportedly told Pal, a BJP official in East Midnapore, the district where the Adhikari family holds sway.
Pal, however, did not agree, PTI reported. Firstpost could not independently verify the authenticity of the audio clips.
"Didi, you called me and I am honoured. But I can't betray the Adhikaris as they have stood by me through thick and thin," he was heard saying in the audio clip.
He later told TV news channels that Mamata called him up and requested him to return to the TMC, a proposal he declined. "I am now working for the BJP and can't betray them," said Pal.
The number of Muslims slightly outnumber the Hindus in Malda, which has historically been a den of the Congress, largely because of the late Ghani Khan Choudhary
West Bengal Election 2021: Two BJP MPs, Union Minister in fray from 44 seats in phase 4; date, time of polling
The 44 seats due for polls lie across Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts in north Bengal and in parts of South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hoogly in the southern part of the state.
The fourth phase of polling for West Bengal will include nine Assembly constituencies in Howrah, 11 in South 24 Parganas, five in Alipurduar, nine in Coochbehar and ten in Hooghly