A sting operation reportedly conducted by a news website showed 11 All India Trinamool Congress leaders and a senior police officer allegedly accepting bribes to allow a team to set up their company in West Bengal. The TMC Monday refuted the allegations, saying the sting operation is a "smear campaign" against the ruling party.
The video showed the TMC leaders and the police officer accepting bribes of around Rs 73 lakh from the team, consisting of journalists Mathew Samuel and Angel Abraham of the website Narada News, according to Manorama Online. The duo was seeking help to establish their fictitious company, named Impex Consultancy, in the state.
Narada News reportedly has about 52 hours of footage of the sting operation. The website uploaded a 23-minute video of the sting operation on its official YouTube channel March 13.
"The TMC is full of some of the most corrupt elements in the country. TMC leaders were caught on camera accepting cash, agreeing to flout all the rules to favour a fictitious company," the description of the video reads.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra was quoted as saying by the Indo-Asian News Service the sting operation shows what they have been trying to say for many years. He said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was behind all the corruption in the state.
"Now, there is nothing to hide. It's a matter of shame that this government continues. This is not only about the lakhs of rupees accepted as bribes by the Trinamool but also about the crores looted in the [Saradha] chit-fund scam. The one wearing rubber sandals is behind all this," IANS quoted Mishra as saying.
TMC calls it "smear campaign"
TMC's national spokesperson Derek O'Brien Monday refuted the allegations in a video statement uploaded on his Facebook page. He said the sting video was doctored and an attempt to smear the party's image.
"I've had a look of the video, the so-called sting operation. Where these videos came from, who doctored these videos, who will now put a defamation case, we are not bothered. We're all busy with elections now, so whoever has tried to concoct this smear campaign, well please go ahead and concoct your doctored videos. The TMC credentials are absolutely unquestionable [sic]," he said.
West Bengal will vote for the 2016 Assembly elections in six phases, starting April 4.
"To all our political opponents, you know you can't defeat us politically so you try and create a cheap tricks department ...and try and do all this. This is at best a minor distraction on Monday morning," O'Brien said
International Business Times, India tried to contact the party, but did not get a response by the time this article was published.
List of TMC leaders and the police officer accused of accepting bribes:
- MH Ahmed Mirza, senior police officer: Rs 5 lakh
- Mukul Roy, former union railway minister: Rs 20 lakh
- Subrata Mukherjee, Minister for Panchayat and Rural Development: Rs 5 lakh
- Sultan Ahmed, former union minister and MP: Rs 5 lakh
- Saugata Roy (former Union Minister and MP): Rs 5 lakh
- Suvendhu Adhikari, TMC Youth Wing president, MP: Rs 5 lakh
- Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, MP: Rs 4 lakh
- Prasoon Banerjee, MP: Rs 4 lakh
- Sovon Chatterjee, Mayor of Kolkata, MLA: Rs 5 lakh
- Madan Mitra (former Minister of Transport) – Rs 5 lakh
- Iqbal Ahmed, MLA: Rs 5 Lakh
- Farhad Hakim, Minister of Urban Development: Rs 5 Lakh
(Source: Manorama Online)