AMit Shah said there was nothing secret in two BJP leaders speaking over a phone call.

New Delhi:
Union minister Amit Shah today questioned how the phone call between two BJP leaders in Bengal — which has unleashed a fresh political storm — became public. “We have demanded this in writing. There is no tapping also for transfer etc. The question is who tapped (the phone) and how did this happen,” he told reporters. The alleged phone conversation between BJP leader Shishir Bajoria and the party’s troubleshooter Mukul Roy, released by the ruling Trinamool Congress yesterday, could damage the opposition BJP and hurt the non-partisan position of the Election Commission.

Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:

  1. According to the Trinamool Congress, in a conversation with BJP leader Shishir Bajoria, the party’s troubleshooter Mukul Roy asks him to include in a list of items to be raised with the Election Commission. One very specific request is about polling agents or booth agents of political parties.

  2. During the leaked phone call, Mukul Roy — a key Trinamool leader who joined the BJP in 2017 — purportedly said the Election Commission should be requested to pass administrative orders permitting any voter anywhere in Bengal to be booth agents at any booth in the state.

  3. Booth agents of a party who sit inside polling booths on voting day are usually residents of the booth area, who know the locals. “If we don’t get this done, the BJP won’t be able to field agents in many booths,” Mr Roy is said to have told Mr Bajoria.

  4. The Trinamool Congress has already been targeting the BJP over the five MPs and Union ministers it fielded in the ongoing elections, saying it does not have enough leaders in the state to fill the candidate list.

  5. It is assumed the phone call is recent. The Commission passed an order last week, allowing Bengal voters to be booth agents anywhere in the state. The Trinamool has been asking for this order to be scrapped.

  6. On Saturday, the day the first phase of election was held, a delegation of the Trinamool Congress led by party MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, met the Election Commission to reiterate the request. By the evening, the party released the audio clip.

  7. The Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh claimed the audio clip has “blown the lid off” the “nexus” between the BJP and the Election Commission.

  8. The ruling party has long accused the Commission of proximity with the BJP. Its comments sharpened after the Election Commission said there was no evidence of any attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram and she sustained injuries in an accident.

  9. “I am asking with respect to the Election Commission. Who is running the Election Commission? Amit Shah, are you running it? We want a free and fair election but who is Amit Shah? Who is he to guide the Election Commission? He is interfering in the work of the Election Commission… And this is working against us,” Mamata Banerjee had said at a rally in Bankura.

  10. The Commission, in a sharp response, had said such comments “belittle” a constitutional body. The Commission “maintains the position that they would not like to keep on being put in the dock for alleged proximity to any political entity etc. However, if CM persists in creating and attempting to perpetuate this myth for reasons best known to her, it is singularly unfortunate, and it is only for CM to adjudge as to why she is doing so,” wrote  Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain.

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