A controversy erupted on Friday after the BJP released a purported audio clip in which West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is heard telling the Trinamool Congress nominee of Sitalkuchi to hold rallies with bodies of the four persons killed in CISF firing during polling on April 10. The TMC described the audio clip released on the eve of the fifth phase of the polls as “bogus” claiming such a conversation never took place.
Releasing excerpts of the telephonic conversation between Banerjee and Partha Pratim Ray, the TMC candidate of the Sitalkuchi seat, the BJP’s IT Cell chief Amit Malviya claimed that the “chief minister is trying to instigate riots by asking her party leaders to take out rallies with bodies”.
“She is heard asking her party candidate to frame the case in such a way that both the superintendent of police (of Cooch Behar) and other central forces personnel can be framed. Is this expected from a chief minister? She is trying to instil a sense of fear just for minority votes,” he said.
Post the violence in Sitalkuchi, Mamata Banerjee wanted to take out procession with bodies of those who died trying to capture booth 126. She spoke about framing the SP and IC for doing their job, asked TMC’s candidate to spread misinformation about detention centers to scare Ms. pic.twitter.com/517u7IulKH— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) April 16, 2021
BJP has decided to move the Election Commission over the audio clip, said Malviya. Lashing out at the chief minister, he alleged all efforts were being made to make sure that free and fair polls do not happen in Bengal. “This is a gross violation of political ethics and the BJP will approach the election commission in its demand for strict action against the Bengal chief minister,” he said.
BJP MP and assembly candidate from Hooghly, Locket Chatterjee, said: “it is shocking to see a woman act like this and play dirty politics… Didi does not shy away from playing politics of the dead.”
BJP national president JP Nadda said, “TMC signifies VULTURE CULTURE- of feasting on death for petty political gains. TMC should be ashamed of themselves.”
TMC signifies VULTURE CULTURE- of feasting on death for petty political gains.TMC should be ashamed of themselves. https://t.co/7X3idhNByP
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) April 16, 2021
Four persons were killed as central forces opened fire allegedly after coming under attack from locals, who “attempted to snatch their rifles”, near a booth in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district during the fourth phase of polling.
In the purported audio clip, Banerjee is heard instructing Ray to keep his cool till the polling is over. “Don’t panic. You should make arrangements for conducting a rally with the bodies the next day. And also consult a lawyer and file a police complaint so that neither the SP nor IC can escape,” she is heard saying.
The TMC’s Sitalkuchi candidate termed the audio clip as “bogus”. “Such a conversation never took place. This audio clip is totally bogus. The BJP is just trying to confuse the people before the fifth phase of polling,” he said.
TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy dismissed the allegations as lies peddled into Bengal by Home Minister Amit Shah. “BJP runs a factory to manufacture lies. They have only peddled lies in our state all along…all he (Shah) can do is to tap phones.”
TMC leader Derek O Brien attacked the saffron party’s “audio tape factory” and accused the BJP of not understanding the language. “I don’t want to give any importance to audio tape factory. People who are releasing this, they themselves don’t understand the language,” he said.
Earlier, Banerjee has described the firing as genocide by central forces and termed it as a conspiracy by the Union Home Minister. Out of the eight-phase assembly elections in the state, four phases have been completed and the remaining four are scheduled to be held between April 17 and 29.