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As the polls are going on in West Bengal, accompanied by reports on booth capture, threats and other types of violence, two pieces of information on the 'sting operation' made by the Narada News on quite a few Trinamul Congress leaders, including some MLAs and MPs, have added further fuel to the fire. Had these politicians been firm in their innocence, they should have filed a defamation suit against the Narada News and Mathew Samuels and demanded punishment of the latter. But none of them dared it. A few days ago, the Secretary General of the TMC announced that there would be an investigation within their party. It is perfectly clear that the contents of the 'sting operation' are becoming credible to an increasing number of people with every passing day, and stalling a parliamentary probe by various devious means, maybe by means of a tacit understanding with Narendra Modi, is not going to be of much help. The decision by the Kolkata High Court to probe the matter with the help of a high-powered three-person committee has been further embarrassing to the ruling TMC. Another important, and perhaps the most amusing, dimension has been added to the case by Mamata Banerjee's protestation that had she come to know of the matter before the finalisation of the list of her candidates for the assembly polls, she would have thought over the matter and excluded the accused candidates. This is a virtual admission of the truth of the charge that bribes were really taken by her political colleagues. But the point is that after the 'sting operation' had first come to light, Mamata Banerjee still had enough time to revise the list of her candidates for assembly polls. Yet she went on defending these people, along with the accused MPs, with all kinds of specious arguments.

Maybe her earlier remarks are not carrying conviction with the electorate, and she feels that her electoral prospects may be severely injured—at the time of writing, polling in Kolkata is only three days away. Hence she finds it more worthwhile to shift the burden of guilt onto the shoulders of her minions in order to maintain her image of probity. Her minions have, however, declined to comment on her latest excuse, which is clearly damaging to them.

Surprisingly quite a number of persons belonging to the academic, literary and cultural world continue to strive to curry favour with this regime presided over by Banerjee. Perhaps these people do not consider such acts of colossal bribery a crime. ooo
18.4.2016

Frontier
Vol. 48, No. 43, May 1 - 7, 2016