The latest buzz in Bengal political circles seems to be around TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee’s allegations that BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari was “in touch” with the main accused in the coal smuggling case.
Vinay Mishra, the alleged kingpin of the coal and cattle smuggling scam, has been on the run and hiding in Vanuatu island for the past two years.
“I know a journalist who has phone records of Suvendu Adhikari speaking to Vinay Mishra eight months ago, assuring him safety. I challenge Suvendu to file a legal suit against me… I will produce that audio clip in court and let forensic tests be done to ascertain the voices,” Banerjee said. According to party sources, the audio clip has content that might give the coal smuggling scam a fresh angle.
Adhikari, too, responded to the allegations while addressing a political rally in Ghatal on Saturday. “Come out with the audio clip . Is this like the Sudipto Sen letter? Is my voice distorted and manipulated? No such call from my number can be found,” the BJP leader said.
The TMC immediately with general secretary Kunal Ghosh saying, “He did not deny that there was an exchange of calls between him and the main accused in the coal smuggling case, Vinay Mishra. Whatever Abhishek Banerjee said regarding the audio call was true, even Adhikari did not deny the claim. Whatever Suvendu Adhikari said today is complete nonsense. Look at his condition now. A year ago, he would boast that he has high connections in the central government and has call recordings of several politicians. Today, the same Suvendu Adhikari has to eat his own words.”
He added: “The point to be noted is that he never denied making that call. Second, he claimed that his voice has been distorted. If he is that confident, why doesn’t he go to court. Abhishek Banerjee has asked Adhikari to approach the court, so that he can share the audio call with the authorities.”
The TMC also demanded a forensic test of the audio clip. Party sources said the BJP has used Mishra as a weapon against Abhishek Banerjee but the TMC is now using its full strength against Suvendu Adhikari. While the BJP is trying to project that these are “pressure tactics”, the saffron party has nothing concrete to show even as Adhikari has not denied making the phone call, the sources added.
Sources further said there was also the question as to why central agencies were not bringing Mishra back from Vanuatu when he was the main accused in the coal smuggling case.