Kolkata | Jagran Politics Desk: A huge controversy erupted on Saturday with the beginning of first phase assembly elections in West Bengal after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released an audio clip in which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee can be purportedly heard persuading Pralay Pal, Suvendu Adhikari's aide, to rejoin the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and help her win the Nandigram seat.

In the alleged audio clip, Banerjee could be heard calling Pal, who is BJP's vice-president in East Midnapore, a "young and active worker" and asking him to rejoin the TMC.

"You should help us win Nandigram. Look, I know you have some grievances, but that's due mostly to the Adhikaris who never allowed me to get into Nandigram or East Midnapore. I will take care of everything henceforth," Banerjee purportedly told Pal, as reported by news agency PTI.

Pal, however, declined Banerjee's offer and said that he now works for the BJP. "Didi, you called me and I am honoured. But I can't betray the Adhikaris as they have stood by me through thick and thin," he said, as reported by PTI.

(Disclaimer: English Jagran does not independently verify the veracity of the audio clip)

Senior leaders of the BJP, including party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, also met the state election commission and submitted a copy of the alleged audio clip.

Vijayvargiya said that Banerjee is imploring for help and this audio clip shows that she has accepted defeat. "I am saying what I am saying with full responsibility (jawabdari)," the BJP leader said when asked about the authenticity of the audio.

Meanwhile, the TMC has questioned the genuineness of the audio clip and called it a "production of the BJP's misinformation factory in West Bengal".

"First of all, I don’t know about the authenticity of the audio clip. But even if it turns out to be a genuine audio clip in future, then also I personally believe that she has done nothing wrong in calling up a former TMC worker. She can always call her former party workers and seek his or her help," said TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh.

This year, Banerjee will contest the polls from the high-profile Nandigram seat where voting will take place on April 1. She is up against her former aide Suvendu Adhikari.

The BJP has expressed hopes that it will bring an end to the 10-year TMC rule in West Bengal and form its own government. The TMC, however, has claimed that the BJP will be wiped out from West Bengal after the announcement of the results on May 2.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma