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18 Mar 2017

Mamata points to 'popular mandate'

Tapas Ghosh and Meghdeep Bhattacharyya, TT, Calcutta, March 17: Mamata Banerjee today said many of those "framed" in the Narada sting contested the Assembly elections last year and "won with huge margins" and asked if the "popular mandate" should be "insulted".
Two hours earlier, Calcutta High Court had observed while passing the Narada judgment that corruption shakes the confidence of the people in the government.
"The footage was made public days before the elections. After that, the people framed in the so-called sting contested the polls. Everybody won with huge margins.... Should we insult the popular mandate?" the chief minister asked.
"Canards were spread against us before the polls.... Everybody used the tapes as their main election issue. But still we won," Mamata added.
Of the 11 politicians whose images were seen on the Narada tapes, six - Iqbal Ahmed, Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Sovan Chatterjee, Subhendu Adhikari and Subrata Mukherjee - contested the Assembly polls. Only Mitra lost and was relegated to the sidelines of the party. Hakim, Chatterjee, Adhikari and Mukherjee are senior cabinet ministers.
Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty had observed that corruption was a "reprehensible" crime that is an "assault" on the faith of the common people in officials and elected representatives. "It (corruption) defiles and degrades and shakes the confidence of the people at large upon the government. It causes psychological harm to the society at large, leaving upon it indelible marks," the judge had said.
Asked about the observation, Mamata said: "They (the Trinamul politicians) emerged victorious in the court of the people. Is there any stronger evidence in a democracy of where the faith of the people lies?"
Senior lawyers pointed out that court verdicts and popular mandates are separate issues and rarely do violations of the law have an impact on political careers in India.
"Those victories (in elections) do not do anything to discredit the observations of the judiciary," senior advocate Subroto Mookherjee said.
Advocate Anindya Sunder Das said the sting did come to light before the elections, but it remained unclear at the time whether the leaders had taken money or not and whether they were framed.
"It cannot be said that the electorate took a well-informed decision and voted for these people. That's why a thorough probe into the allegation is a must," Das said.

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