The Trinamool Congress is alleging a "dark, devious conspiracy" behind a malfunctioning air-conditioner installed in the room at a Malda hotel where their firebrand leader, Mamata Banerjee, had been staying.
Even though the accident, it seems, was all smoke and no fire, the ruling party in West Bengal wrote to the Election Commission: "This incident could have had fatal, disastrous consequences with repercussions in West Bengal and the entire nation. One cannot rule out a deep, devious conspiracy behind this incident."
The allegation comes within a few days of Banerjee accusing the poll panel of acting as an agent of Congress, BJP and CPI(M) and hatching a conspiracy against her party to ensure its defeat. The CM attacked the EC after the latter transferred seven state officials before the polls.
In a letter to chief election commissioner VS Sampath and chief electoral officer of Bengal Sunil Kumar Gupta, Trinamool general secretary and former railway minister Mukul Roy said: "I do not have to reiterate that the hon'ble chief minister is a Z+ category protectee. Law and order in the state is now under the absolute superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission, which has failed in its duty to ensure her safety and security."
At 6:30pm on Thursday, the air-conditioner in the room of Golden Park Hotel where Mamata was staying began emanating thick smoke with pungent smell preceded by a loud crackling sound.
Dilip Agarwal, the owner of the hotel, asserted it was just an accident. "The transformer was changed yesterday and there was a shot circuit, which caused the accident. Everything is under control now," Agarwal told HT.
Hotel sources told HT, Mamata remained calm and composed during the incident. She prefers to stay in the same hotel whenever she visits the district. Sources said she was expected to return to the hotel after her public meetings in Birbhum on Friday.
During the day, a state forensic team visited the hotel and the fire department lodged an FIR against the hotel for "poor upkeep of appliances".
Senior police officials held a meeting and the security of the West Bengal chief minister was tightened after the incident.