The BJP appeared to have been caught in its own game after releasing an audio clip of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s purported conversation with her party’s Sitalkuchi candidate.
BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya releasing the tape at a press conference on Friday (April 16) claimed that it contained a conversation between Banerjee and her party’s Cooch Behar district president and Sitalkuchi candidate Parthapratim Roy.
In the purported conversation a woman, ostensibly Banerjee, was heard giving instruction that bodies of those killed in firing at Sitalkuchi should not be immediately handed over to their relatives as a protest march would be brought out with the mortal remains.
Four persons were killed in firing by Central forces at a polling booth in Sitalkuchi on April 10.
After the tape was made public, the TMC turned the heat on the BJP accusing the Central government of taping the telephone of a sitting chief minister.
The party in a tweet from its official handle raised the serious question: “Did the Centre tap into private phone conversation of a sitting CM (sic)?”
“We condemn the blatant breach of privacy and illegitimate usage of state machinery for petty political agenda,” the party said in the same tweet.
A party delegation also submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission drawing its attention to the alleged phone tapping.
“As a former Union minister I can say with authority that there is a set procedure to tape phone calls of even a criminal. So, we drew the attention of the commission and demanded an inquiry,” said TMC leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha.
The party also said it would also take legal action against the phone tapping.
“My private conversations are being taped. It is a big scam. I want to know who is tapping my phone. I will order a CID probe into this. The Central government is tapping phone calls of everyone,” the Chief Minister alleged at an election rally at Galsi assembly constituency in West Burdwan district.
The Federal could not independently verify the authenticity of the audio clip released by the BJP on the eve of the fifth phase of the polls.
Malviya claimed the Chief Minister was trying to instigate riots by asking her party candidate to take out rallies with bodies.
The person Malviya identified as Banerjee is also heard instructing Roy to keep his cool till the polling was over and that he should lodge a police complaint only after consulting a lawyer so that erring personnel of the Central forces and superintendent of police of the district and in-charge of the local police station could not escape.
Initially, the TMC had denied the authenticity of the tape. The party’s Sitalkuchi candidate had claimed no such conversation ever took place and the audio clip is totally bogus.
Soon after the party changed its position and accused the Centre of taping the chief minister’s phone, pushing the BJP into back foot.
A delegation of the besieged BJP on Saturday (April 17) rushed to the Election Commission complaining that the TMC deliberately made the video viral to polarize election.
“The conversation was between the chief minister and a TMC leader. One of them naturally leaked the conversation. It was done deliberately to polarize elections,” claimed BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta after lodging the complaint with the commission.
The BJP also submitted a copy of the audio clip.
The BJP leaders, however, did not explain as to why it had brought the audio to the public domain if the TMC had deliberately leaked it.
Last week Malviya had made public TMC poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s interaction with journalists on the audio app Clubhouse to claim that the state’s ruling party already conceded defeat in the ongoing elections.