Income Tax officials raided Abhishek Banerjee's helicopter in Kolkata, claims TMC

Party says the chopper was undergoing a trial run at Behala Flying Club

TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee _ PTI TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee | PTI

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

In a post on X, the party said the chopper was undergoing a trial run at Behala Flying Club for Banerjee's visit to Haldia in Purba Medinipur when a team of IT officials arrived and extensively searched it.

"Instead of removing the @NIA_India DG and SP, @ECISVEEP and @BJP4India chose to deploy minions from IT to search and raid my chopper and security personnel today, resulting in no findings," Banerjee said on X.

"When the Income Tax officials couldn't find anything, a frustrated team of Mr. Modi's men didn't let the chopper fly. When Banerjee's security personnel asked the reason, they (IT officials) engaged in a verbal spat and threatened to detain the chopper illegally. They opened each and every bag, searched every nook and corner of the chopper," the party said.

These actions, according to Banerjee, are evidence that "the BJP is trembling when it comes to Bengal. They want to wipe out the opposition in a bid to come to power again. But TMC will take the Bangla-Birodhi BJP head-on and we won't budge an inch because of these intimidating tactics carried out by central agencies on the instructions of their Delhi bosses."

The Diamond Harbour MP claimed when his security personnel videographed the raid, IT officials forcefully had it deleted.

Labeling the BJP as "zamindars," the TMC remarked, "they can exert all their might, but Bengal's spirit of resistance will never waver."

TMC Rajya Sabha MP and party national spokesperson Derek O'Brien asked, "Did the desperados find some fruits and fish sandwiches on board?"

The party asked the Election Commission to issue "appropriate direction to the IT department to stop them from taking any steps against the TMC and its functionaries during polls which would hinder the electioneering process."

The party also called upon the EC to transfer the two inspector-rank officers and debar them from carrying out any election-related duties.

Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, told reporters that the IT raid was part of the drive to eliminate black money from election campaigns.

Adhikari said the TMC's outcry over the raid indicates that the party's leaders are apprehensive about their ill-gotten wealth.

"Instead of creating a fuss over the IT raid, which was aimed at ensuring a clean poll campaign, Banerjee should have quietly cooperated with the officials. Is he above the law of the country?," Adhikari said while campaigning for the BJP in Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency.

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