Audio clip issue: BJP, TMC move CEO; conversation sent to EC

·3-min read

(Eds: Adds TMC's meeting with CEO) Kolkata, Apr 17 (PTI) Both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress on Saturday approached the West Bengal CEO with their demands on the purported audio link in which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is heard suggesting a rally with bodies of those killed in CISF firing during polling on April 10.

While the saffron party urged Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab to take note of the purported audiotape claiming it could lead to untoward situations in the next phases of the assembly elections, the TMC demanded action against those who released it 'violating rules'.

Aftab said that the audio clip was sent to the Election Commission (EC) which is looking into the matter.

A controversy erupted on Friday after the BJP released the purported audio clip in which Banerjee is heard telling the TMC nominee of Sitalkuchi to hold a rally with the bodies of the four persons killed in CISF firing during the fourth phase of polling.

Banerjee at an election rally on Saturday alleged that her phone is being tapped and said she will order a CID probe into it.

The purported audiotape was released on the eve of the fifth phase of polling to influence voters and the BJP's Information Technology cell was behind it, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, who led a TMC delegation, told reporters after meeting the CEO.

Sinha said that it was against the election model code of conduct and the party urged the CEO to take it up with the EC and take action against those who are behind it.

He said that government agencies can tap telephones only in case of a specific criminal complaint against an accused but not against every individual particularly a chief minister.

'This is illegal,' Sinha said.

State minister and senior party leader Purnendu Basu said that while the authenticity of the audio clip is not yet proved, its release is an invasion of privacy, besides being violative of the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, IT Act and the IPC.

He said that the poll panel has been urged to initiate action against such violations.

Senior BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, who led a delegation to the CEO's office, told reporters that he has apprised Aftab of the purported conversation between Banerjee and the TMC's Sitalkuchi nominee Partha Pratim Ray, and pointed out that it could lead to untoward situations in the next three phases of the assembly polls.

Dasgupta said that the CEO was requested to take up the matter with the top officials of the EC.

'We don't think this is a case of phone-tapping,' he said.

'We have sent the clip to the Election Commission in New Delhi. They are looking into the matter,' Aftab said.

Releasing excerpts of a purported telephonic conversation between Banerjee and Ray, the BJP's IT Cell chief, Amit Malviya, on Friday claimed that the 'chief minister is trying to instigate riots by asking her party leaders to take out rallies with bodies'.

Four persons died near a booth in the Sitalkuchi constituency of Cooch Behar district as central forces opened fire allegedly after coming under attack from locals, who 'attempted to snatch their rifles amid the voting exercise on April 10. PTI SUS SCH NN NN