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Mamata's Trinamool asks Narendra Modi to apologise or face defamation

A day after slamming Narendra Modi as "Butcher of Gujarat", the Trinamool Congress today demanded that the Gujarat Chief Minister should apologise publicly or face a defamation case for questioning the sale of Mamata Banerjee's painting.

"Either he has to prove this (charges on sale of paintings) or apologise publicly for this. Otherwise we will file a defamation case against him," Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy told reporters here.

Mamata Banerjee, Mukul Roy
Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee

Modi, at a rally in Srirampore yesterday, had said, "Your (Mamata) paintings used to be sold for Rs 4 lakh, Rs 8 lakh or Rs 15 lakh, but what is the reason that one of your paintings sold for Rs 1.80 crore. I respect art. But who was the person who bought the painting for Rs 1.80 crore".

"Who all have bought her paintings, for what price they bought it, suddenly how they found out your talent, this the people of Bengal want to know," he had said.

Roy said the party has written to the Election Commission complaining that such "unsubstantiated" allegations are a violation of the model code of conduct.

"Someone whose hands are blood-stained in Gujarat riots is doubting the integrity and sincerity of our leader and making personal attacks," he said.

Narendra Modi addressing a rally
Narendra Modi addressing a rally

State finance minister Amit Mitra said all money raised from the sale of paintings have either gone for charity purposes or funding the party's mouthpiece 'Jago Bangla'.

"Modi has made a very low level of personal attack on her. By going to the lowest denominator he has changed the political discourse in the country," he said.

Raising questions on the funding of BJP prime ministerial candidate's election campaign, the Trinamool leaders alleged that public sector undertaking BALCO was "undervalued" before it was sold off at a lower price by the erstwhile NDA government.

"Mr Modi has to answer for the case of BALCO where the assets of the company in terms of its finances were approximately Rs 6000 crore but was sold for Rs 550 crore during their period. Who will answer this?," Roy said.

"Is that extra money being used today for election purpose. We need an answer," he questioned adding that the UTI scam was worth Rs 25,000 crore in which 2 crore people were affected negatively.

Dubbing Modi a dictator, Roy asked, "How can a person whose hands are stained with blood in Gujarat run the nation? He is appointing himself as the Prime Minister? " Claiming that there is a secret understanding between the BJP and CPI(M), he said the BJP wants the CPI(M) to win in West Bengal.

Giving details on the sale of paintings, Roy said proceeds from Banerjee's painting exhibitions held in 2004 and 2006 were donated to charity and government relief fund.

After that the paintings were sold to fund the running of party mouthpiece 'Jago Bangla'. He claimed that none of the paintings were sold at high price and they had audited accounts for it.

Defending Banerjee, state finance minister Amit Mitra said how can someone question the chief minister's integrity and honesty "when she doesn't take salary and doesn't even use a government car."

He said Trinamool has always been demanding state funding of elections for a corruption-free political system.

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