Mamata, opposition trade volleys over Tapas Paul’s death

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pays tributes to Bengali superstar and former TMC MP Tapas Pal ahead of his last rites in Kolkata on Feb 19, 2020.

Kolkata, ┬áThe political blame game over the death of actor-turned Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Paul intensified in West Bengal on Wednesday, as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held the BJP-led central government’s “political vengeance” responsible for his demise, while the saffron outfit hit back by blaming her for Paul’s “tragic end”.

Banerjee alleged that three persons including a Trinamool MP and the wife of another Lok Sabha member have died in recent years unable to withstand the pressure of the central agencies.

“In 2017, Trinamool MP Sultan Ahmed died. His family told me he received a letter and phone, went to the bathroom, and died. Arjuna awardee footballer Prasun Banerjee’s wife also died, unable to bear the sufferings,” Banerjee said standing besides Paul’s body at the Rabindra Sadan cultural complex here.

“And now, it is Tapas… His death has again shown how his life had become terrible due to pressure mounted by central agencies. He had become a mental and psychological wreck.

“He didn’t know till death what was his crime. A numero uno film star like Tapas had to languish in prison for 13 months. His crime was he was the director of an entertainment channel. He used to get a salary for that. But for that he was imprisoned,” said Banerjee, continuing her explosive attack on the centre.

“I am mentally shocked,” the Chief Minister said.

A number of Trinamool leaders, businessmen and other influential people have been interrogated or arrested in connection with the multi billion rupee ponzi scam and the Narada sting footage scandal by the CBI and other central agencies, which took over the cases following court orders.

Ahmed and Prasun Banerjee underwent multiple grilling by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in the Narada sting case, while Pal was arrested by the CBI in connection with his association with the Rose Valley group, one of the companies under investigation in the ponzi scam.

Lashing out at the Centre’s BJP-led dispensation, the Chief Minister said its behaviour was akin to political vengeance.

“This sort of behaviour is akin to political vengeance. Nobody is able to escape the vengeful plans of the Centre,” she said.

“I don’t know what the game is. I don’t know what the strategy is. If anybody violates the law, then law will run its course. But that doesn’t mean that for days and months they would be subjected to humiliation and insults. Even in murder cases, people get bail after three months,” she added.

Countering Banerjee, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said she and her party Trinamool were responsible for Paul’s death.

“When Tapas Paul was in jail, she never went to see him. Who is responsible for Paul’s tragic end? Whose hand is there? Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool are squarely responsible,” he said.

Paul passed away on Tuesday. His mortal remains were kept at the Rabindra Sadan cultural complex for the people to pay homage before they were consigned to flame at the Keoratala crematorium with full state honours.

Condemning Banerjee’s comments, Union Minister Babul Supriyo accused the TMC chief of indulging in “dirty politics” over Paul’s death.

“Only Didi (as Banerjee is called) is capable of this.”

Castigating Banerjee, former Bengal Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya said one shouldn’t talk politics standing before the body of a deceased. “Death is the end of a life. Standing before a deceased, one should only pay respects. That’s the right principle. The Chief Minister should have known that she can comment on the Centre and express her political thoughts from a rally ground.

“But the sort of comments she made before the mortal remains of a person, it’s nothing but political perversion”.