Reopening the debate over the box unloaded at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's helipad at Chitraguda, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday claimed BJP leaders with Z Plus security were evading scrutiny and entering the state with boxes of cash.
"Yesterday, a BJP candidate was caught with crores of rupees," Ms Banerjee said, referring to the midnight drama in which Rs 1,13,895 was seized from Bharati Ghosh's car, the BJP candidate from Ghatal.
"Today, too, I have heard many BJP leaders with Z plus, Y plus, BJP plus security, are using their security status to go about with boxes full of cash in police cars," Ms Banerjee said at a public rally at Ashoknagar in North 24 Parganas district.
"Just before the elections, they are giving anti-socials cash to capture booths and give the poor food and drink for a day or two. Is this an election?" she said.
Referring to the Model Code of Conduct which authorizes election officers or media to take photos, she said, "Why is no press or EC photographer allowed in where the PM is? One day, one picture of one a box came out. Who knows how many such boxes are being brought to Bengal by BJP leaders?"
After the furore over the box whisked out of the prime minister's helicopter on 9 April in Karnataka, clarifications were reported about how security equipment was being transported in the box.
"You can't do elections with boxes in Bengal. We will catch leader who have gone even today to different places to distribute money. I say, stay awake at night and catch people distributing cash. The moment campaigning ends, they start handing out cash though the night. Today campaigning ends. But since yesterday, cars full of cash are going around," she said.
Dilip Ghosh, the state BJP chief said the "law will take its own course" in this matter. BJP's National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya supported Bharati Ghosh, a former police officer in the matter. "We stand by Bharati Ghosh. She is being framed by the Trinamool. The allegations are false," he said.
Another BJP leader, who requested anonymity, said Ms Banerjee has offered no evidence to shore up her claims.
"She is nervous and saying anything she likes. She is preparing grounds to explain her shrinking number of seats," the BJP leader said.
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