Mamata Banerjee trashes sting, threatens opposition
Kolkata: Trashing the sting operation in which some of her party leaders are purportedly seen taking bribes, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said it won't take her "a second" in getting back at her opponents in a like manner.
On a day when the Calcutta High Court heard litigations concerning the sting operation, Banerjee, in an interview on a Bengali TV news channel, questioned the motive of the sting by a man who was "arrested for violating the Official Secrets Act".
Lambasting the opposition BJP, Congress and the CPI-M for harping on the sting operation during their election campaign, she attacked a section of the media for giving detailed coverage to the footage. Warning her political opponents, she said: "I can also do a similar thing by giving money to someone, but why would I do that?"
Taking the names of several prominent opposition leaders, Banerjee warned: "They are talking big... how long will it take me, papers are there... "Don't make me open my mouth. It takes a second to do...," she said. Banerjee termed the videos as "fake".
"If the videos are really authentic, then why is the media running a disclaimer about not having verified its authenticity? "When the media itself does not trust the videos, then why is it serving such fake news to the people?" asked Banerjee.
She ridiculed the BJP and the Congress which have filed petitions seeking a CBI probe into the sting operation. Carried out by Narada News and uploaded on its website, the sting shows several top-notch Trinamool leaders including former central ministers, state ministers and MPs accepting bribe in return for favouring a fictitious company.
"Our party has already said it is a fake video and even in the court we have said that. What I have heard from media reports, the court has asked for details of the company. I heard the company was formed this year. Then how come it did the sting in 2014?
"The man behind the sting, he was arrested and was in jail. He was arrested by the CBI for violating the Official Secrets Act and was granted bail later. He failed to appear and for violating bail condition he was again arrested and again got bail later," Banerjee said about sting mastermind Mathew Samuel.
"What can be more damning than this man violating the Official Secrets Act?" said Banerjee, referring to Mathew's arrest in 2010 after being accused by the CBI of unlawfully procuring official documents from a home ministry secret file and using it for a story.
With Samuel affirming he had been conducting the sting since 2014, Banerjee questioned his motive of releasing the videos just before the assembly polls. "Much like accepting bribe, giving bribe too is a crime. Being a journalist why would you approach somebody like that? The entire video is fake, this has been manufactured.
"Why now at the time of elections, why are you so much afraid of the Trinamool that you have to resort to such tactics," she asked.