April 21, 2021
Rally of the dead
To: either/view subscribers
Good afternoon. If you have not done so already, you should definitely check out Ingenuity helicopter’s flight on planet Mars. On Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity became the first aircraft to fly on another planet!
The helicopter’s flight was captured by the rover and the video can be seen here.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Mamata Banerjee’s Sitalkuchi audio tape sparks row
An alleged phone conversation between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Sitalkuchi’s Trinamool Congress candidate Partha Pratim Ray in the aftermath of a firing incident when 4 persons were killed by the central forces has sparked a row. In the audio, Mamata Banerjee is allegedly asking Partha to hold the dead bodies so that they can be taken during a party rally the next day. State Election Commissioner Ariz Aftab has sent the audio clip to the Election Commission.
The fourth phase of West Bengal assembly elections were held on April 10. The police alleged that a group of people were preventing voters from reaching the polling booth in Sitalkuchi to vote. In the ensuing altercation, the CISF personnel fired at the group, leading to the death of four persons. While BJP alleged that the miscreants had tried to stop the voting process, TMC accused the central forces of ‘genocide’. The state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is investigating the case.
It is alleged that the controversial call between Mamata Banerjee and Partha Pratim Ray occurred in the aftermath of this firing incident.
Last Friday, BJP’s national IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya released an audio clip on Twitter alleging that Mamata Banerjee “wanted to take out procession with bodies of those who died trying to capture booth 126.”
BJP had complained to the Election Commission asking it to probe the matter, as the party felt that a rally with the dead bodies would have led to more communal tensions in the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at an election rally in Asansol, had accused Mamata Banerjee of playing politics with the dead.
Initially, TMC argued that the audio clip was not genuine and such a conversation between Mamata Banerjee and Partha Pratim Ray had not taken place.
However, ANI reported that a TMC delegation led by Yashwant Sinha, Derek O’Brien and Purnendu Basu wrote a letter to the Election Commission accusing BJP of illegally recording the phone conversation between Mamata Banerjee and Partha Pratim Ray.
The letter alleged that BJP had played the purported phone conversation in their party office in the presence of Amit Malviya. The letter also alleged that the audio clip was played out of context in a press conference. The delegation asked the Election Commission to take action against BJP for this illegal act, quoting the right to privacy of Mamata Banerjee and Partha Pratim Ray.
Mamata Banerjee had also lashed out at the BJP for allegedly tapping her phone. She said that the BJP leaders were eavesdropping on everyday conversations.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
- The government at the centre should fight the pandemic and not the opposition.
For the Left:
- Mamata Banerjee’s biggest drawback is her failure to mature as a politician.
🗳️ ELECTION WATCH
(294 constituencies – 8-phase polls)
- Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has urged the Election Commission to club the last two phases of polls in the state. The state has so far completed five phases of polls, with the sixth phase to be organized tomorrow. The CM pointed out that even the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner (EC) Rajiv Kumar have tested positive for COVID-19 and have isolated themselves.
🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
Tipsy to the bank (Jammu & Kashmir) – The Union Territory netted ₹140 crore in earnings from the auction of 228 location specific permits for liquor vendors through its new liquor policy. This is a significant jump in earnings, considering the erstwhile state had previously only received around ₹10 crore from such auctions.
Battle for air (Tamil Nadu) – The state government has accused the Centre of diverting 45 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen from Inox Air Products in Sriperumbudur without consulting the state. TN Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said that the state had previously supported all its neighbours during the peak of 2020 crisis but noted that the ground reality was different this time.
Tomatoes to the rescue (Chhattisgarh) – Officials in Bijapur district are encouraging people to take COVID-19 vaccines by offering 2 kg of tomatoes to each person who gets vaccinated. The offer is apparently gaining in popularity, with the officials seeing an increase in number of people who are visiting the vaccination centres.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
142 – Rank of India in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders. The country is ranked 142 out of 180. “With four journalists killed in connection with their work in 2020, India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly,” the report notes.