Mamata Banerjee admits asking BJP leader Pralay Pal for help

Ajeyo Basu

LAST UPDATED: March 31, 2021, 12:33 p.m.

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has admitted that she had called up BJP leader Pralay Pal and requested him to help her win the Nandigram constituency in the ongoing West Bengal Election 2021.

Pralay Pal is an aide of BJP leader Shuvendu Adhikari, who is the main challenger of Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee in the Nandigram constituency. 

Pralay Pal, who had followed Shuvendu Adhikari when the latter left the TMC to join the BJP last year, had spurned Mamata Banerjee’s offer to return to the TMC fold. 

However, Mamata Banerjee has said that calling a former TMC leader who is now in the BJP is not a crime. She said that the people who have leaked the audio recording of the conversation have broken the trust imposed in them.

When the BJP attacked the TMC over the leaked audio, the TC initially denied it, but later admitted that such a conversation actually took place.

“Yes, I had called the BJP leader in Nandigram. I got feedback that someone wants to talk to me. So I talked to him after taking his number. I asked him to take care of his health. So what is my crime?” Mamata Banerjee said shortly before the election campaign ended in Nandigram on April 1. 

“As a candidate for the constituency, I can take help of any voter, I can call anyone. There is no harm in it, it is not a crime. But if anyone makes the conversation viral that is a criminal offence. Action should be taken against the person who made my conversation viral,” the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief added.

The audio clip of the conversation was leaked on Saturday, when the first phase voting on 30 seats was held. In this, Mamata Banerjee can be heard saying, “you should help us win Nandigram. Look, I know you have some complaints, but this is mostly due to the officials who did not allow me to come to Nandigram or East Midnapore. I will take care of everything.”

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Pal said during the conversation, “Didi you called me, it is an honour for me. But I cannot betray Shuvendu Adhikari, because I am supporting him in every way.” 

“I am working for BJP now and cannot cheat them,” he added.

The BJP had alleged that the audio clip was evidence that the West Bengal chief minister was using her official position to influence the election. A delegation led by the BJP’s West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya had filed a complaint with the Election Commission and handed over the audio tapes.

Mamata Banerjee said on Tuesday that this is not the first time she has met people who have left the TMC and even opposition MLAs.

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