As Bengal's phase-1 polls get underway, BJP on Saturday has submitted an alleged tape of a conversation between CM Mamata Banerjee and BJP's Nandigram Vice-president Praloy Paul to Election Commission. In the tape, Banerjee is heard seeking Paul's help in Nandigram, while he refuses to leave Suvendu Adhikari's side. Banerjee and Adhikari's high-stake battle for Nandigram is scheduled for April 1. Polling is underway on 30 seats in Bengal across five districts - Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, West Medinipur and East Medinipur where 191 candidates are in poll fray.
In the audiotape that I played now, state CM is seeking help from a BJP (Nandigram) district vice-president and requesting him to return to TMC. This shows that she has realised that TMC is losing the election: Shishir Bajoria, BJP. #WestBengalPolls pic.twitter.com/Qc06ycsKb6March 27, 2021
Praloy Paul: "Tell me, Didi".
Mamata Banerjee: "You are a young man. I know you very well. Help us this time and there will be no problem."
Praloy Paul: "I and my family came into politics inspired by you. I held a rally, when you took oath as CM. I felt bad when I did not get the (district) president post."
Mamata Banerjee: "Who did that? Your local leader (Suvendu Adhikari), who did not allow us to visit Nandigram or enter Medinipur. You know everything, brother."
Praloy Paul: "Was it not possible for me to get a ticket?"
Mamata Banerjee: "Why do you think I am there? What happened with you was an injustice."
Praloy Paul: "I was beaten up by your Mahadev."
Mamata Banerjee: "I did not know earlier, now I am in Nandigram. So I am connecting with you."
Praloy Paul: "Didi, I am sorry I cannot do anything. I am going to remain in the party I am. No one can blame my family or me of corruption."
Mamata Banerjee: "You think everyone is honest now? Those who are with you in BJP, you think they are honest?"
Praloy Paul: "Didi, I only believe I am honest. I will be with my current party till they respect me and work honestly."
Mamata Banerjee: "You think your local leader is honest?"
Praloy Paul: "I can't talk on that. But when I was beaten by CPM, his family was with me. I have always supported their family. For more than 40 years, my father and Sisir babu have had good relations. How can I forget that?"
Mamata Banerjee: "We sent them. they worked under us. We fought against the CPM."
Praloy Paul: "Thank you Didi. For such a big leader to call me, but I cannot do anything for me."
Mamata Banerjee: "See what you can do. Thank you."
On January 18, Mamata set up the Nandigram faceoff by announcing that she will contest from Nandigram and Bhowanipore in the upcoming state polls. The ex-Nandigram MLA- who was the mastermind of the 2007 Nandigram agitation - responded, "I will leave politics if I fail to defeat her by half a lakh votes". After Mamata announced she will file for nomination on March 11, he responded, "We want the son of Midnapore, not outsiders". Taking up BJP's challenge, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee announced that she will contest only from the Nandigram seat in East Midnapore district, and not from Bhowanipore - where Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay will contest.
In response, BJP fielded Suvendu Adhikari for the Nandigram seat. Bubbling with confidence, Adhikari said, "'Nandigram is not a challenge for me. I am going to Nandigram to defeat her (Mamata Banerjee) and send her back to Kolkata". Mamata, who recently suffered an injury while campaigning in Nandigram - which she has blamed on BJP, has vowed to conduct her campaign on a wheelchair with the BJP calling it 'sympathy politics'. The saffron party is gearing for a tough battle in Bengal - aiming to attain more than 200 seats, while not fielding a CM face yet.