Tapas Paul. File picture
Calcutta, June 30: Video footage broadcast today showed Trinamul Congress MP Tapas Paul making statements that left little to the imagination and sent shock waves across the country but were not out of tune with the revelations of political thuggery in Bengal.
A sample of what Paul, an actor who joined Trinamul, told a public meeting earlier this month: “If anyone from the Opposition dares touch a daughter of Trinamul, a father from Trinamul, a child from Trinamul, I will do whatever I can to their entire clan. I will set my boys on them, they will rape them, they will rape them.”
Paul had delivered the speech at Nadia’s Choumaha on June 14. In the Lok Sabha, he represents Krishnagar, which falls in Nadia.
After television channels 24Ghanta and ABP Ananda televised the footage, the Trinamul Congress had little option but to distance itself from the MP’s comments. But not before Paul and some Trinamul leaders sought to raise an incredible question: did he say “raid” or “rape”?
Hit by a barrage of questions and unable to defend the indefensible, the Trinamul Congress tonight asked Pal to give a written explanation in 48 hours.
Paul told The Telegraph: “The speech happened sometime back. I think during the elections (the polls were long over by June 14 when, local Trinamul leaders said, Paul delivered the speech). It was around that time when they (CPM workers) were kicking pregnant women. Commandos had to be called in for the electionsÖ. I really don’t know why they are telecasting it now.”
Once the footage was picked up by channels outside Bengal, Trinamul national spokesperson Derek O’Brien said: “Statements made by Mr Tapas Paul are very insensitive. We do not in any way endorse what he said weeks ago, being played on TV today.”
O’Brien, one of the leaders who flagged the “raid-or-rape” question, said he was making the party’s stand clear “with all the authority at my command”.
But the real — and sole —authority in command had not uttered a word on the subject till late tonight. During the day, chief minister Mamata Banerjee spoke with conviction about plans to plant 1.54 crore trees in Bengal.
But not a word on the Tapas Paul model of protecting “ma, baap, bon (sister), chacha (uncle) and chachi (aunt)”.
The silence came at a time another Trinamul legislator — MLA Manirul Islam — has been accused of killing three youths four years ago. The mother of the youths and their brothers have been running from pillar to post for protection and police action but the chief minister has not yet spoken on the subject.
The following is the transcript of Paul’s speech aired by 24Ghanta and ABP Ananda. Some of the more startling statements are being reproduced also in Bengali, the language in which the MP spoke.
Ekta kono CPM jodi amaar maa, bon, chacha, chachi karo gaye haat dey ei Tapas Paul chhere katha bolbe na. Tapas Paul nijer revolver bar kore guli kore diye chole jabe. Jene rakhben, bhalo kore jene rakhben, ami Chandannagarer maalÖ Ami Kolkatar maal noi, Chandannagarer maal. Rangbaji Tapas Paul korechhe. (If anybody from the CPM dares touch my mother, sister, uncle or aunt, then this Tapas Paul is not going to spare them. Tapas Paul will shoot them with his own revolver and leave. Remember, I am from Chandernagore. I am not from Calcutta, I am from Chandernagore. Tapas Paul too has been a tough).
Ekta jodi kono birodhi aajke Trinamuler kono meye, kono baap, kono bachchar gaye haat dey, tader gushti ke ami jaa taa kore chole jabo. Amaar chheleder dhukiye debo rape kore chole jabe, rape kore chole jabeÖ. (If anyone from the Opposition dares touch a daughter of Trinamul, a father from Trinamul, a child from Trinamul, I will do whatever I can to their entire clan. I will set my boys on them, they will rape them, they will rape them.)
What they have done here, you don’t know. I contested from here, they used to act tough. I am saying again and again, if anybody touches anyone from Trinamul Congress here. I won’t spare them. I will have the last word. Today they have beaten kids, mothers, sisters.
All those people in this Choumaha village who have become Opposition members, I am telling them, warning them, be very careful. I will be at Krishnagar and every month I will come to Choumaha. If I hear of any untoward incident, if I get any witness, I am not going to spare anyone.
*So, I am telling the Opposition workers, you all be careful. You all be careful. I am saying this as a Trinamul worker. I am not a Trinamul MP but a worker. Those who are in the Opposition, I am showing them my shoes (taader aami juto dekhachchhi). I am reminding you what you did the other day, when the commando forces came here, all of you fled this way. All of them fled this way. You have no powers.
*I am not going to say another word. I am extremely angry. Be very careful, I am saying, everybody be very careful. If anybody from CPM raises hand on any Trinamul worker, I will destroy the entirely family. I will destroy their houses, their family. I am making this very clear.”
The CPM said Paul had stated what had become Trinamul’s “official party line”.
“Politics of vendetta, through rape, murder, violence and intimidation has become Trinamul’s official party line. From Anubrata Mondal (the Birbhum Trinamul president whose name figures in a murder FIR) to Tapas Paul, everyone has to toe the line if he has to stay in favour of the powers that be. Heinous as the comments are, they barely even surprise those familiar with Bengal politics of recent years, since Trinamul came to power,” said CPM MP Mohammad Salim.