A conspiracy, says party

Smarting from a sting operation that showed a number of party leaders allegedly accepting cash on camera, the ruling Trinamool on Monday described it as “smear campaign and a political conspiracy”. Top officials of the TMC said the video was “manufactured.” The Opposition demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation.

The video went viral on the social media. The portal claimed it had “52 hours” of content.

As the issue heightened political temperatures in poll-bound West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is touring north Bengal refrained from making direct references. She, however, challenged her opponents to “fight her politically instead of spreading canards against my party.”

In Kolkata, MP and party’s national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien was the first to defend the party. “This is at best a minor distraction on a Monday morning,” he said.

As the day progressed, it became clear that the issue was anything but minor. Party vice-president Mukul Roy and secretary general Partha Chaterjee held a press conference and declared that the party would consider taking legal steps against Narada News.

In the video, Mr. Roy is seen instructing reporters of the portal to have the money delivered to one of his close aides. He also asked them to send it to his office in central Kolkata. But of all the TMC leaders who were seen taking money, Mr. Roy was the most vocal in countering the allegations. “It is a political conspiracy… it is all manufactured videos,” he said. “The party will take legal action.”

The authenticity of the sting-video could not be verified independently. However, it gave the Opposition a lot of ammunition to target the ruling party.

While the BJP demanded Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s resignation, the Communist Party of India-Marxist [CPI-M] wanted the Election Commission to take note of the developments and postpone the Assembly elections if required.

“What is left for us to understand after this? This is about lakhs. But crores have been looted,” Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said. The Left Front, in a press statement, described the development as “unprecedented” and urged the Election Commission to verify the authenticity of the sting.

The BJP leadership said those seen in the video allegedly accepting bribes should be barred from contesting polls.

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said this was going to be a major poll issue. “The Chief Minister here claims she is a symbol of honesty, but that hers is a party of thieves and robbers has been proved once again,” Mr. Chowdhury said.

The full bench of Election Commission, led by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, reached Kolkata late on Monday night and is expected to meet representatives of all major political parties.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 2:57:45 PM |

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