Did Call BJP Leader, Leaking Conversation An Offence: Mamata Banerjee

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The audio clip of the conversation was leaked on Saturday, as the first phase of polling in 30 seats was held.

Did Call BJP Leader, Leaking Conversation An Offence: Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee said calling up a former leader of her party who has switched to BJP is not a crime.



Kolkata:

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday asserted that calling up a former leader of her party who has switched to the BJP is not a crime. The people to be blamed are those who broke faith and leaked it. The conversation was with Pralay Pal, the leaked audio of which had embarrassed the party, which initially denied it but later said such an interaction did, indeed, take place.  

“Yes I had called up this BJP leader in Nandigram. I had got the feedback that someone wants to talk to me. So I talked to him after getting his number. I told him to keep well, to take care of his health. So what is my crime?” Ms Banerjee said on Tuesday, shortly before the campaign ended in Nandigram where elections are due on April 1. 

“As a candidate of the constituency I can seek the help of any voter, I can call up anyone. There is no harm in that, it is not a crime,” the chief of the ruling Trinamool Congress said. “But if someone makes the conversation viral that is a criminal offence. Action should be taken against the person who made my conversation viral, not me,” she added. 

The audio clip of the conversation was leaked on Saturday, as the first phase of polling in 30 seats was held.  

“You should help us win Nandigram. Look, I know you have some grievances, but that’s due mostly to the Adhikaris who never allowed me to come to either Nandigram or East Midnapore,” Ms Banerjee is heard telling Mr Pal, a supporter of Suvendu Adhikari who shifted to the BJP along with him.  “I will take care of everything henceforth,” she is heard assuring him. 

“Didi you called me and I am honoured. But I can’t betray the Adhikaris as they have stood by me through thick and thin,” Mr Pal responded. Later, he told reporters that he had declined Ms Banerjee’s request to move back to Trinamool. “I am now working for BJP and can’t betray them,” he said. 

The BJP had pounced on the audio clip as evidence that the Chief Minister was using her official position to influence the election. 

A delegation led by the party’s Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargia had filed a complaint with the Election Commission and handed over the audio tape.

Ms Banerjee on Tuesday said this was not the first time she reached out to people cutting across party lines and even opposition MLAs who sought her help.  

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