Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mandal sparked a controversy after a video clip purportedly showing him instructing party workers to implicate a Bharatiya Janata Party leader in a false case went viral on Monday. In the video, Mandal is seen telling party workers to frame the BJP leader for possession of cannabis.
Under the anti-narcotics law, those caught possessing up to one kg of cannabis are given a minimum jail term of six months. Possessing more than one kg of cannabis can invite a prison term of up to 20 years.
Mandal, the district president of the ruling party’s Birbhum unit, purportedly made the comments at a meeting in the Aushgram Assembly constituency in Burdwan East district on Sunday, PTI reported.
“Arrest the man whom we have excluded from the five-member committee,” Mandal is seen telling party workers. “Also, that woman, that plump one. What’s her name? The one owning a garment shop, get her arrested too. She is a BJP worker. Can you control them? Tell me if you can control them, otherwise we will arrest them in a cannabis case and put them behind bars.”
State Agriculture Minister Ashis Bandopadhyay and Trinamool Congress leader Rana Singha were present at the meeting.
Scroll.in could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
In the video, the BJP worker Mandal was allegedly referring to is Sangita Chakraborty, who was earlier with the Trinamool Congress. “I am a human rights activist,” The Indian Express quoted Chakraborty as saying. “I do not know what the administration is doing after the way he threatened me during a party meeting. If I can be framed in a case, what will happen to the common citizens of this state?”
Chakraborty said she has lodged a complaint against Mandal at the Aushgram police station and has notified the National Human Rights Commission. “I have also brought this matter to the notice of his superiors in the ruling party,” she added.
The Opposition accused the Trinamool Congress of using the police to settle scores.
BJP General Secretary Rahul Sinha demanded Mandal’s arrest. “The video is a clear proof of how TMC has turned the police into an organ of the party,” said Sinha. “He should be arrested immediately. I don’t know whether he smokes ganja but he is speaking like one who is addicted to cannabis. It does not behove a politician to speak in this manner.”
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also said the video was an example of how the police were being used by the ruling party. Party leader Sujan Chakraborty demanded that action be taken against Mandal.
However, Mandal denied the charges against him and called the video bogus, reported the Hindustan Times. “I do not know who spread this video,” he said, claiming that he did not even know the woman named in the video.
Trinamool Congress General Secretary Partha Chatterjee refrained from commenting on the matter. He said he had not seen the video. The vice-president of the party’s Birbhum unit, Avijit Sinha, however claimed the video was fabricated. “It has been done to malign the party,” he added.
This is not the first time Mandal has courted controversy. In July 2013, he had asked his supporters at a public meeting in Birbhum to hurl bombs at the police and burn down houses of rebel Trinamool Congress candidates contesting the panchayat elections.