Kolkata: Even as protests and calls for his arrest continue to gain ground, Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal – facing the heat over his rape and violence remarks – Thursday found an unlikely ally in President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit.
On the other hand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at her detractors claiming “small matters were getting highlighted”.
Mukherjee junior, a Congress MP from Jangipur, dubbed Paul’s remarks as “slip of tongue” and asserted the matter should not be dragged any further.
But by springing to Pal’s defence, Abhijit attracted his own party’s displeasure with state unit president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury saying he will seek an explanation for the “callous comments”.
“Tapas has written an apology letter. I feel since he has apologised and his party has pardoned him, the debate should not be dragged any further.
“At times such slips of tongue happen although it shouldn’t happen. Many of us have made similar mistakes in the past. I hope such things don’t get repeated in future,” said Abhijit who was earlier condemned and had to apologise for describing women demonstrating against the Dec 16 2002 gang-rape in Delhi as “highly dented and painted”.
A livid Chowdhury said the party did not endorse Abhijit’s comments.
“Rather we condemn it. When the whole country is seething in anger over Pal’s remarks, making such a callous comment is totally unwarranted. I will seek an explanation from him,” Chowdhury told IANS.
Seemingly peeved at the media for continuously highlighting the nationwide outrage over the issue, Banerjee accused her detractors of carrying out a campaign of “canards and misinformation”.
“Now, as you can see, if you do some good work that is never publicised. But if somebody does something small, or even if somebody does not do it, everybody is out with a vengeance,” she said during a function at Nazrul Mancha.
“A campaign of canard and misinformation is being carried out against us in a planted way. It may well be, that you don’t even know what has happened.”
Though Banerjee did not mention the Pal episode, it was obvious that her ire was directed against the media and the opposition which have been tearing at the Trinamool government over the hate speech.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) which has been targeted by Pal in his hate speeches, continued its tirade against him.
While its students wing – the Students Federation of India- took out a rally in the city carrying posters and banners, party Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury wrote to Lok Sabha speaker seeking referral of Pal’s “misconduct” to the Committee of Ethics for “suitable punitive action”.
The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party activists also held demonstrations demanding action against Pal.
Pal, an MP from Bengal’s Krishnanagar, has been caught on tape exhorting his party workers to kill CPI-M activists even as he himself asserted that he would gun down his rivals and let loose his boys to rape their women.
Notwithstanding the countrywide clamour for Pal’s arrest and expulsion from parliament, the Trinamool has sought to end the matter with an apology which he tendered to his party and the media Tuesday.