Now explosives found near rally venue, Mamata claims murder conspiracy
A day after she had a narrow escape from a fire, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday alleged a concerted effort to eliminate her, even as explosives were recovered a few kilometres away from her rally venue.
The Election Commission said it was looking into the Trinamool Congress complaint that the poll panel had failed to ensure her safety and security.
Addressing an election meeting in Nalhati of Birbhum district, Banerjee rubbished the theory that Thursday's fire in her hotel room in Malda district was caused by a short circuit.
"There is a conspiracy. Planning is on. After I am killed, it would be passed of as a short circuit... as an accidental death," she said.
Before heading to Nalhati, Banerjee recounted her horrific experience, saying "I thought I would die" of suffocation.
"I could not see anything as there was smoke all round. Luckily the room was not bolted and I ran out covering myself with a blanket. I inhaled a lot of the gas and thought I will die of suffocation," said Banerjee who was in the washroom when she heard a loud sound and came out to find the room engulfed in smoke.
Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress chief, was staying in a private hotel in Malda town after campaigning when the AC in her room caught fire, throwing out thick smoke and soot.
"The whole night I had breathing trouble and had to use oxygen cylinder. Though I am not well, I cannot cancel my programmes," said Banerjee.
Menwhile, the police found explosives on the Suri-Bolpur road, a few kilometers from Banerjee's rally venue in Birbhum district.
"We have seized some explosives from under a culvert on the Suri-Bolpur Road. While the chief minister has been travelling in a chopper, the explosives were found few kilometres away from the party rally venue hours before she attended it," Birbhum's Superintendent of Police R.M. Khan told IANS.
Khan said a bomb disposal squad was immediately sent to the spot and five people have been detained in this connection.
The Election Commission said it was looking into the Trinamool complaint against it with regard to the fire.
"We have forwarded the complaint to the Commission in Delhi. They are considering it and after that they will take a decision," the state's assistant chief electoral officer Amitjyoti Bhattacharya told reporters here.
While her party leaders continued to see a conspiracy behind the incident and even attacked the poll panel, state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called for the intervention of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"I think the CBI should be called in," Chowdhury said reacting to the incident.
Trinamool leader and state Sports Minister Madan Mitra said "poisonous fumes were released in the CM's room in pursuance of a conspiracy", while party general secretary Mukul Roy shot off a letter to the Election Commission crying foul over the incident.
In his letter to Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and state chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta, Roy said a "deep, devious conspiracy" could not be ruled out.
"Safety norms and procedures were completely disregarded by the administrative machinery under your control. This incident could have had fatal, disastrous consequences with repercussions in West Bengal and the entire nation. One cannot rule out a deep, devious conspiracy behind the incident," Roy said in his letter.
Police have initiated a probe into the matter and a forensic team examined the room and collected samples.
(Posted on 18-04-2014)