Kolkata: Two-time West Bengal chief minister and Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who is contesting from Nandigram in the Assembly elections, landed in a tight spot on Saturday after an audio clip in which she is allegedly heard asking a local BJP leader, who was earlier in her party, to work for her victory in the hot seat against her nemesis Shuvendu Adhikari surfaced.
While Ms Banerjee remained silent, her party strongly supported her over the audio clip of two minutes and 52 seconds which appears to be a phone conversation she recently had with Proloy Pal, BJP district vice-president of East Midnapore.
In the evening, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, in a bid to counter the BJP's attack on the CM over her plea, claimed having an audio tape which allegedly has the conversation of two saffron party leaders — Mukul Roy and Sisir Bajoria — about creating pressure on the Election Commission in tweaking the rules for fielding party agents at polling booths which require them to be voters in the particular constituencies first. Mr Roy, however, called it “fake".
During her alleged talk with Mr Pal, Ms Banerjee said, "You are a very young chap. You also work very well. I know everything about you. Please help us this time. You will have no problem. Be assured about that."
Mr Pal, however, replied, "My family, inspired by you and your ideology, came into politics. The day you took oath as the CM, I performed a yagna inviting five Brahmins to it and took out rallies also. But I feel sad to see myself not getting the president's post (in the district) after doing so much for you, Didi."
To placate him, the TMC chief allegedly argued, "I know everything. But do you know who did it? It was the handiwork of a local leader who once used to be in our party. He did not allow me to visit either Nandigram or Midnapore. They ran it like their zamindari. You know everything brother!"
Mr Pal, however, reasoned, "You may think of anything but I already left the party. I want to work for the present party with dedication. I cannot betray it…" The CM still sounded keen and tried to convince him to work for her.
Refusing her politely this time, Mr Pal said, "I thank you a lot for calling up me despite you being such a big leader, Didi! But please forgive me (for not accepting your request)." The BJP which tweeted the audio clip lodged a complaint against the CM with West Bengal’s Chief Electoral Officer, Ariz Aftab, and demanded her resignation.
Teasing Ms Banerjee, Shuvendu Adhikari alleged, "She has lost her credibility. She is totally bankrupt now. Apart from Proloy, she also warned some senior police officers of not following my words. But they alerted me of her threat then and there."
TMC minister Subrata Mukherjee, however, said, "The CM has done nothing wrong. I am proud of her. Can a top party leader not make a polite appeal to someone who has made an exit? Should that be spread as a canard in the media? Think again where the politics will go down to if such type of tricks are adopted."