A former police officer in West Bengal, who used to call Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee "mother" and is now a BJP candidate, has warned Trinamool Congress workers that if they try to intimidate her voters, she would get 1,000 men from Uttar Pradesh, pull them out of their houses and "thrash them like dogs".
In response, Ms Banerjee, who was campaigning in the constituency - Ghatal - has said that the BJP candidate, Bharati Ghosh, should not cross the "laxman rekha" or limits. "Don't make me open my mouth about you," Ms Banerjee said at a street corner meeting.
The Trinamool is planning to move the Election Commission against Bharati Ghosh for her remark, seeking cancellation of her candidature.
Bharati Ghosh used to be the police chief of West Midnapore district and was viewed as very close to Ms Banerjee. But there was fallout for reasons that are still not absolutely clear. According to Ms Ghosh, the police had registered 10 complaints against her, including in a case of alleged extortion and illegal exchange of banned notes for gold. The Supreme Court stayed her arrest earlier this year.
On 26 December 2017, Bharati Ghosh was transferred out of West Midnapore. Two days later, she resigned from the police. Almost immediately after, the West Bengal police launched a hunt for her but she disappeared only to surface in New Delhi on February 9 this year at the BJP office to join the party.
Ms Ghosh was fielded by the BJP from Ghatal against Trinamool's parliamentarian Deepak Adhikari, an actor popularly known as Dev.
On Saturday, at Anandapur village in Ghatal, Ms Ghosh was campaigning when some people complained to her that Trinamool workers were warning them not to vote on May 12, the sixth phase of polling.
Pointing at the alleged Trinamool supporters, she said, "If they try to frighten anyone, we will pull them out of their houses and thrash them like dogs. I will get a thousand boys from Uttar Pradesh and deploy them here and then you won't be found," she said. Some obscenities were also allegedly uttered.
Her comments have caused a political furore.
Trinamool candidate Dev said, "I just don't believe in this kind of politics. It is unfortunate. I know Bharati di for some time. But my respect for her has decreased. I don't want a leader like this, someone who publicly threatens people. Let the people decide."
BJP leader and candidate from Bashirhat, Mr Sayantan Basu, backed Ms Ghosh. "What about the chief minister threatening people that the central forces are here only until the elections?" he said. Asked about Mr Ghosh's reference to thrashing people like dogs, he said, "Fine, then we will thrash them like human beings."
The CPM's Sujan Chakraborty mocked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and said," Why can't you control your daughter? Bharati Ghosh used to call you mother, didn't she?"
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