West Bengal: CPI(M) chief of Bengal Surjya Kanta Mishra has dropped a bomb and how! In a Facebook post, Mishra alleged that Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee granted favours by taking crucial policy decisions and, thus, violated the model code of conduct. He has furnished an audio as evidence. The audio is purportedly between Banerjee and a union joint secretary, who claims to have 33,000 members in his organisation.

What is the charge?

In the Facebook post written in Bengali, the CPM leader said, "Is this the voice of Smt Mamata Banerjee? Is it a telephone conversation? Is there an effort to hush it up, knowing fully that the Election Commission's model code of conduct is being breached? Will the chief minister order an inquiry and be brave enough to present the truth? Has the EC taken note of it?"
Mishra hasn't made any direct charge but the insinuation is obvious: That Banerjee violated the model code of conduct and hence does not want the conversation to be out. According to the rules, the day Election Commission announces poll dates, the model code comes into play and all policy decisions are subject to review. Any move that can be seen as an incentive to buy votes is scuttled. The EC had on Sunday announced the 2019 poll dates. 

What are they talking about?

Though it is unclear whether one of the voices is that of the chief minister herself, social media users who commented on Mishra's post suspect it to be Mamata's. The phone call sounds like it was transferred to her by one of her aides.

On the other side, a person who claims to be the joint secretary of Bengal VRP (village resource person) union can be heard. MyNation has not independently verified the authenticity of the audio posted by the CPM leader.
In the audio, the female voice is heard promising the joint secretary of the VRP union, "We have given you 250 days (of pay work) for now. But after the election, we will get you inside the system so that you (VRP members) need not worry about it ever."

She goes on, "Now you (guys) will work regularly but, later on, I will ensure that you get your monthly salaries as well."

Though she is heard saying the decision was taken 'a few days ago', it's unclear whether it was after the Election Commission declared the dates.

What's even more perplexing is the lady in the audio, who prima facie sounds like Mamata Banerjee. She is heard saying, "Don't tell them (other office bearers of the union) that you have spoken to me today. Tell them I have told this 2-3 days earlier. Otherwise, they will bring the issue of the model code of conduct, which is now at play. Be tactful."

The grey area

Social media users who have commented on the video are claiming that the voice resembles that of the Bengal chief minister. She is talking about a policy decision that may influence thousands of families. What is very clear, Mamata is well aware that any decision now is a violation of the model code of conduct. It seems that the decision was taken days ago, probably realising the call was being recorded and could prove costly. 

The political fight

MyNation contacted Mishra, who posted the purported audio of Mamata Banerjee on his Facebook wall, which has so far been heard by at least 64,000 people and that has attracted at least 683 comments. He said, "I have demanded an inquiry into the matter."

When asked whether he was sure that the woman in the audio was Mamata, Mishra refused to elaborate. He said, "I have made my point pretty clear in the Facebook post. I have nothing more to add." Meanwhile, TMC has rubbished the allegations. 
Speaking to MyNation, TMC MP Idrees Ali said, "I don't think the allegation is true. Please ask Surjya Kanta Mishra to stop making such baseless allegations. He should know people don't take to any criticism of Mamata Banerjee very kindly."