Kolkata, On the day of the fifth phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal, a purported audio clip of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee released by the IT cell of the BJP triggered a major war of words with both the Trinamool Congress and the saffron party appealing to the Election Commission to take action against the other.
While the BJP claimed that Banerjee is trying to polarise the voters, the ruling Trinamool accused the saffron brigade of intruding into people’s right to privacy by tapping the phone of the Chief Minister.
The alleged audio tape released by BJP’s national IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya had a conversation between the Chief Minister and the Trinamool candidate from Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar, Partha Pratim Ray, where a female voice, purportedly that of Banerjee, could be heard asking “Partha” to “keep the bodies so that the party could hold a rally with the dead”.
The voice is then heard asking “the Trinamool candidate” “to tell the families “not to take the bodies home”.
The tape also has the female voice asking the second person to “consult a lawyer and draw up an FIR” so that the “Commandant, IC, SP… could be transferred”.
“Who were killed in the firing?” the female voice could also be heard saying.
The voice on the other end responds: “Didi, they are our men.”
The next question was: “Did the CRPF open fire?”
It then goes on to add: “I will ensure they are all arrested. Keep your cool. They are trying to divert your attention. Tell people that they are doing all these to prevent them from voting. They will conduct NPR, set up detention camps.”
The Trinamool did not deny the veracity of the tape and, instead, played it out during a press conference (after the BJP media briefing releasing the tape).
“Does the BJP acknowledge that even the Chief Minister of a state is under telephone surveillance,” Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy asked.
Meanwhile, Banerjee said at an election rally on Saturday that “she will find out about everyone involved in tapping her phone” and order a CBI probe.
BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, who led a delegation to state Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab against the Chief Minister’s purported conversation, said, “We didn’t tap the Chief Minister’s tape. A telephonic conversation is between two people and anyone can understand what can happen.”
“The conversation is a burning example that Trinamool Congress is trying to polarise the elections and we have cautioned the Election Commission and asked them to take strong steps against this,” Dasgupta added.
A Trinamool delegation comprising Yashwant Singha, Derak O’ Brien and Purnendu Basu also met the Chief Electoral Officer and complained of phone tapping of Chief Minister Banerjee.
Speaking to the media, Trinamool’s national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien said, “First we need to think from where the tap was released. It was released from the BJP office and so there is no doubt that the BJP is behind this conspiracy. Getting access to a private conversation by tapping the phone is a direct assault on the legal rights, including right to privacy, of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.”