A BJP Lok Sabha candidate whose meeting with a senior leader of Bengal’s ruling party fuelled speculation of his return to the TMC, said on Tuesday that his meeting was a courtesy call following the death of the latter’s mother and criticised the ‘dirty politics’ over it.
At a press conference, Anupam Hazra, the BJP’s candidate from Jadavpur constituency accused Birbhum district Trinamool Congress (TMC) president Anubrata Mondal of setting a trap to stir controversy by inviting media persons at the party office when he went to meet him.
Hazra’s explanations came after the meeting left the BJP squirming in embarrassment.
“After his (Mondal’s) mother died a few days ago, I expressed my condolence on social media. Subsequently, Mondal telephoned me and asked me to meet him at his residence. On Monday, I went to Bolpur to cast my vote. After I entered his room in the party office (very close to his house), I was astonished to see the media there,” Hazra said.
“It’s a political conspiracy. Hazra is a ‘good boy’ who has become a prey,” remarked Mukul Roy, the convener of the BJP’s election management cell in Bengal, who was with Hazra at the press conference.
Mondal rubbished Hazra’s allegations that he had set a trap and reminded the BJP candidate that he (Mondal) himself was under the Election Commission’s surveillance.
“The media was there since morning since I was under surveillance (by the EC),” said Mondal.
The EC had assigned a deputy magistrate and a photographer to monitor Mondal’s movements between 6 pm on April 28 to 7 am on April 30.
Asked about Mondal’s comment that he can arrange a Rajya Sabha ticket for him, Hazra asserted there is no question of returning to the TMC which he left in March to join the BJP.
“Mondal was the reason I quit the TMC,” said Hazra, who also wondered whether Mondal was angling to join the BJP since the TMC was sure to lose one of the two constituencies in Birbhum district that would trigger Mamata Banerjee’s ire.
But Mondal insisted that Hazra’s statements underlined that he was on thin ice.
“He would lose in Jadavpore and therefore, he raised the issue of Rajya Sabha. Mamata Banerjee does not turn down my recommendations from the district,” the TMC leader said.
After Hazra entered Mondal’s office, he touched the TMC leader’s feet, sought his blessings and also had lunch at his house. At the press conference, Hazra claimed that the lunch was actually a prasad of a Kali temple at the office.
Mondal even told the media patronisingly (on Monday) that Hazra had committed a mistake (by joining the BJP) and after the election, he would try to re-induct him into the TMC.
Hazra said that he shared a personal relation with Mondal whom he refers to as uncle. Hazra, who won the Bolpur Lok Sabha seat in 2014, joined the BJP on March 12 and was later nominated for the prestigious Jadavpur seat by the party. He used to teach social work in Visva-Bharati.
Over the past few years, Mondal has faced severe criticism from BJP leaders for his strong-arm tactics and has turned into a symbol of the TMC’s muscle power.
“It’s difficult to ascertain who is with the TMC and who is with the BJP and when. What is happening on this issue since yesterday is a mockery of politics,” said Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator Sujan Chakraborty.
Left leaders have been alleging for long that there was a ‘clandestine’ understanding between the TMC and the BJP.
Apr 30, 2019 17:20 IST
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