Choppers of Abhishek, Rahul Gandhi searched, Mamata slams Central agencies

In Tamil Nadu, election officials check helicopter carrying Gandhi, while in Kolkata, IT officials raid Abhishek's helicopter

TMC chief Mamata Banerjee at an election rally in Jalpaiguri district on 13 April (photo: PTI)
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee at an election rally in Jalpaiguri district on 13 April (photo: PTI)


West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday dared income tax (I-T) officials to inspect the helicopters used by BJP leaders for election campaigns, a day after a row erupted over the Trinamool Congress' (TMC) claim of a "raid" by I-T officials targeting a helicopter used by party leader Abhishek Banerjee.

Meanwhile, election officials in Tamil Nadu conducted checks in a helicopter carrying Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. The flying squad officials conducted a search once the helicopter landed in the Nilgiris, police said.

Gandhi was on his way to his parliamentary constituency, Kerala's Wayanad, where he has a slew of campaign activities, including public meetings, lined up. He is contesting the 26 April Lok Sabha polls from Wayanad, seeking a second successive term.

Addressing a rally in Cooch Behar, the West Bengal CM alleged that the BJP is misusing Central agencies against the TMC ahead of the elections. "Income tax officials conducted a raid and searched Abhishek Banerjee's chopper before the trial run but found nothing. Those I-T officials claimed they had inputs that there was money and gold in the chopper, but they found nothing. We don't engage in such acts. It is the BJP that is involved in such things. But will officials of a central agency ever dare check BJP leaders' choppers?" she said.

The TMC on Sunday said its general-secretary Abhishek Banerjee's helicopter was raided by I-T officials in Kolkata's Behala flying club and alleged that this was part of a deliberate ploy by the BJP to harass and intimidate opposition candidates whom they cannot engage with politically.

As a row erupted over the TMC's claim of a "raid", I-T department sources claimed that there was no enforcement action such as a search or survey and the TMC leader wasn't even present in the chopper.

The TMC supremo also accused the BJP of misusing Central agencies and not allowing a "level playing field for all political parties," in the elections. "The BJP might use NIA (National Investigation Agency) just days before the first phase of the election to arrest our leaders so that they can have a free run," she said.

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