Dismissing the Narada tapes as attempts to malign TMC, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the Centre of hatching a “communal and political” conspiracy to stop her party from emerging as a contender against the BJP in national politics. Banerjee also expressed her doubt over BJP’s massive mandate in the just-concluded Uttar Pradesh polls, saying “there is something fishy about it” and felt the BSP should move court and challenge the functioning of EVMs.
Interestingly, Banerjee criticised the BJP but stopped short of making any personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom she had repeatedly targeted post demonetisation, saying, “I will not say anything personal about the Prime Minister.”
“The matter (Narada tapes) is subjudice so it won’t be right to make any comment. But I will say this is nothing but a political conspiracy to malign our party. It has no credibility at all,” she said in an interview to a news channel.
She added, “It is a communal and political conspiracy by the BJP to stop Trinamool Congress from emerging as a contender against it in national politics.”
Talking about the tapes, she questioned, “First of all, why was the video, which was shot in 2014, released just ahead of 2016 polls? Secondly, did any of the leaders or MPs ask for money or bribes in lieu of getting a job done? The answer is no. So how can someone say they have taken bribes?”
Banerjee said there should be a complete inquiry to find out why a journalist went with bundles of notes to meet the politicians.
“I have information that the day when these tapes were released, he (Mathew Samuel) had made several calls to Dubai. What is the source of money, that has to be investigated,” she said.
Asked about reports of her party MP K D Singh funding the entire sting operation, she said, “K D Singh had relations with the BJP for running his own business. I thought he was a nice man with good credentials. But nominating K D Singh as a Rajya Sabha MP was the biggest mistake. At times you learn lessons from your mistakes.”
Incidentally, the Kolkata Police has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe a case against Alchemist group, a company owned by Singh.
Accusing the BJP of carrying out a “malicious propaganda” about minority appeasement, Banerjee said she did not need lecture on Hinduism from the saffron party.
“We do not need lectures from the BJP on Hinduism. I organise Kali Puja at my home every year. They paint all Muslims as ISI agents but are themselves engaging religious extremism. Killing chicken, goat or other animals is okay but eating beef is not? Who are they to decide who will eat what?,” she said, amid a massive crackdown on illegal meat shops and slaughterhouses in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
The Chief Minister claimed that religious intolerance was surely on the rise in the country.
Further alleging that the BJP was using central agencies to intimidate political opponents, Banerjee said, “The Centre is using dirty tricks to corner TMC in national politics”.