Kolkata, March 14 (IANS) Poll-bound West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress on Monday faced an embarrassment after several of its leaders were allegedly caught on camera accepting bribes.
The Trinamool Congress has rubbished the claims calling the videos “doctored” and part of a “smear campaign” against the party. “This is a political conspiracy. Party will take up the matter. We will take legal action,” said party vice president Mukul Roy.
The sting operation carried out by Narada News and uploaded on its website, purportedly shows as many as 11 Trinamool leaders and state ministers accepting bribes in return for favours to a fictitious company.
“We formed a fictitious company – Impex Consultancy – and approached several ministers and Trinamool leaders to seek favours. This was an attempt to unravel what is happening behind closed doors,” said a report on the website.
“We have about 52 hours of footage of this operation. What we understood after analysing it is that the leadership of the Trinamool Congress were more than willing to side step the norms, circumvent laws to extend illegal help to those who offer money,” claimed the website listing against each of the leaders amounts ranging from Rs. 4 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh that it said it had paid.
The authenticity of the video uploaded by the website could not be ascertained.
The list of alleged “bribe takers”, according to Narada News, also includes a senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, who is claimed by the website as acknowledging that he was a “key person who collects funds for the Trinamool Congress”.
In the video one of the senior leaders is seen telling the website reporter that the IPS officer would be the communicator between them.
“I have Rs. 20 lakhs, I will go to your office and will give. You will be there no,” asked the reporter to which the leader allegedly replies: “Yes, I will be there”.
The video also shows a former central minister and a Trinamool Lok Sabha MP allegedly accepting bundles of money.
While the Trinamool has dismissed the sting as “dirty tricks” by its political opponents, the opposition has demanded that Mamata Banerjee immediately step down as the chief minister.
“We have watched the video of the so-called ‘sting’ operation. There is no sting in it. We are completely dismissive about it,” Trinamool Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien said.
“The timing of the dirty tricks video too clearly indicates the devious motive behind it. Why was the organisation that supposedly shot this video hiding the so-called ‘truth’ for more than two years,” O’Brien added.
He went on to say that he would ask his political opponents to fight them politically. “This is a smear campaign, we are all busy with elections now, so whoever has tried to concoct this smear campaign, may please go ahead and concoct your smear campaign or your doctored videos,” he said.
The Trinamool spokesperson said that in the present age, technology was often abused.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, took the opportunity to tear into its opponent. “The sting operation has completely exposed the TMC proving their entire leadership is deep in corruption. We demand the immediate resignation of Mamata Banerjee. She has no right, no business, to continue as the chief minister,” BJP national secretary S.N. Singh said.
He also demanded an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the matter.
Reading out the names of those caught in the sting, CPI-M state secretary and leader of opposition, Surjya Kanta Mishra, said everything had been brought to the fore.
“The sting operation carried out by Narada News has proved what we have been saying for all these years. Now there is nothing to hide. It’s a matter of shame that this government continues,” said Mishra.