Kolkata: The Bharatiya Janata Party is giving a tough fight to West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress as both are leading in two seats each, while the Congress is ahead in only one of the 42 constituencies as per early trends. For BJP, John Barla in Alipurduar and Raju Bist in Darjeeling were leading. In Jalpaigurii, Trinamool’s Binay Chandra Burman is leading, while in Ghatal, Bengali film star Dev was in the lead. Former state Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has established a slender lead from his constituency in Bahawalpur.
He said Mandela and Gandhi had both been seen as extremists in their time and questioned what they would think of attempts to silence Choudary.But criticising the BBC, Baroness Warsi, the former minister for faith and communities, said extremists should not be given platforms to express their damaging views. Last night Miqdaad Versi, Assistant Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain, said on Channel 4 News: “In reality, he didn’t have that much of support within Muslim communities but what happened was that many places within the media were allowing him and providing him a loudspeaker to spread his hatred which he wasn’t able to do within mosques across the UK.”He added: “Why was the Today programme calling someone like this on to the stage to publicise his hatred, to publicise his view?” The BBC and other broadcasters have come under fire for regularly offering Anjem Choudary a platform to air his controversial views.Ignoring warnings about offering the firebrand cleric the “oxygen of publicity” Choudary became a regular on many of the corporation’s flagship news programmes including Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today.During his trial Choudary described how he would “bait” the media with controversial statements and relished appearing on air. The court heard how he had hundreds of media contacts who he would tip off before high profile demonstrations and stunts, including 31 journalists from the BBC.Last night Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “The BBC has given this man hours of airtime down the years providing him with a platform to express his views.”It was never with the intention of adding to the debate but simply for shock value. I wonder who the Corporation will now turn to as its voice of British Muslims?” In 2013 the media regulator Ofcom launched an investigation into the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 after Choudary appeared on various programmes in the wake of the Woolwich terror attack. In a series of interviews Choudary, who was banned from entering France by the country’s interior ministry, refused to condemn the killing. Ofcom received more than 20 complaints from viewers disgusted that he was allowed the airtime to express his extremist opinions.In 2015 one of the BBC’s most senior journalists was widely criticised when he appeared to draw comparisons with Choudary to Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill.Criticising government plans to clamp down on fanatics, Mark Easton, the corporation’s Home Editor, said extreme views were needed “to challenge very established values”. Choudary said he had media contactsCredit:Rex Shutterstock Whilst mosques were throwing #AnjemChoudary out & forcing him onto street corners, media organisations were giving him a platform— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) August 16, 2016 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.