An audio clip with an alleged conversation between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Nandigram has created a political flutter in West Bengal political circles, giving new dimension to the electoral contest.
In an audio clip that was made public by the State BJP leadership, the CM is allegedly heard requesting local BJP leader Pralay Pal to help her out in the Nandigram polls. Ms. Banerjee is contesting against the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram Assembly seat that goes to polls on April 1.
“You are young person and do a lot of work, I know… Please help us out this time,” Ms. Banerjee is allegedly heard as saying in the audio clip.
In the audio clip, when the local leader alleges that he was harassed by the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Ms. Banerjee allegedly says, “Your local leader did not allow me to enter Nandigram. Earlier, I was also not involved but today I am taking a stock of everything that is why this call.”
Ms. Banerjee is purportedly referring to Suvendu Adhikari as the local leader who defected to BJP in December 2020.
Mr. Pal said told the CM that he would not betray the BJP.
Mr. Adhikari called the conversation a reflection of the TMC’s political bankruptcy. Senior BJP leader Sishir Bajoria played the audio clip outside the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, West Bengal.
There was no denial from the TMC that the voice in the audio clip was not that of Ms. Banerjee. Senior Trinamool Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee held a press conference and said that there was nothing wrong in the CM speaking to a former party worker. Mr. Pal was a TMC activist who joined BJP a few months ago.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh also spoke on similar lines, saying it was a “courtesy phone call” and it was unfortunate that the call had been made public.
Another audio clip
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress also released an audio clip of a conversation between two BJP leaders — Mukul Roy and Sishir Bajoria. In the clip, Mr. Roy is alleging heard telling Mr. Bajoria to include a demand that the polling agent in a polling booth should not necessarily be a resident of that booth. Mr. Roy is also heard telling Mr. Bajoria that they would have to impress on the Election Commission on the issue. In this clip, the BJP leaders were allegedly discussing if the polling agent had to be from the same booth, the BJP would find out the polling agents on all seats.
While releasing it, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said that the audio clip was a reflection of political conspiracy behind influencing the Election Commission. Earlier in a day, a delegation of TMC leaders, including eight MPs of the party, met the Chief Electoral Officer and submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission, seeking withdrawal of notification dated March 18, 2021 regarding invalid relaxation in the appointment of polling agents.