A sting operation, conducted by news portal Narada News, has shown 11 front-ranking leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and a police officer being bribed by a Chennai-based company for assistance in getting business contracts in West Bengal. Leaders like Mukul Roy, Subrata Mukherjee, Sovan Chatterjee, Subhendu Adhikari, Madan Mitra, Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmad, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee are not only seen collecting bribes but even bargaining shamelessly in the video. M H Ahmed Mirza, a senior police officer, is purportedly seen in the video collecting money on behalf of a ruling party leader. The website has released a second footage which purportedly showed former president of TMC’s student wing Sankudeb Ponda asking for a 'stake' in every venture of the company which would happen in West Bengal. Aparupa Poddar, TMC MP, was also seen receiving money in the second video. Ponda has earlier been interrogated by CBI and Enforcement Directorate for his alleged involvement in the chit fund scam.
Though the public reaction of the ruling party about the video tape has been that it is “doctored” and “a conspiracy of the opposition”, party supreme and chief minister Mamata Banerjee has dodged the matter. TMC has become absolutely cornered and almost committed the misdeed when its lawyers pleaded for postponing the Narada expose hearing in the Calcutta High Court till the end of the assembly elections. TMC MP and lawyer Kalyan Banerjee told the court that “there is a difference between bribe and donation”. The submission put the matter beyond doubt as an indirect acceptance. The court has rejected TMC’s unreasonable claim for delaying the hearing and has instructed Narada News to produce the camera which was used for shooting in the sting operation, the original and unedited footage of the same.
The video clips have brought forward another example of how public money is being looted in West Bengal. CPI(M) state secretary and leader of the opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra has said, “So it isn’t bribe, but CM’s SP collecting funds for her party to vitiate elections?” The “bribe versus donation” theory floated by TMC has provoked a few more questions: if it is a ‘donation’ before the parliamentary polls then has TMC reported it to the Income Tax and the Election Commission? Are they habituated to collect such ‘donation’ without issuing receipts? The CM has said they will prove that the tapes are doctored after winning the assembly polls.
People are joining in protest in large numbers against the shameless corruption in West Bengal and they are demanding for action against the misdeed. The so-called symbol of honesty, which TMC claims to be, has been totally unmasked. Surjya Kanta Mishra said, “CM nowadays is not making paintings but the helicopter use is on the rise. Bengal wants to know from where the money is coming from? The CM kept mum about who have bought at huge prices her paintings which can’t be substantiated for its standard. Even CBI probed the matter and sought details from the income tax department on purchase of one of such paintings by the Saradha chit fund boss for Rs 1.8 crore. CM’s painting exhibitions have dried down after the chit fund scam came into surface. But the huge cost of TMC’s campaign will undoubtedly attract the attention of the people.” He said unequivocally that the last five years of TMC misrule in Bengal has resulted in unfathomable corruption, destroying of democratic environment, increase in attack and atrocities against women, regular attack on education sector, decrease in employability, disappearance of security for the poor people. And Bengal has united to end this misrule.