EC Bars Mamata From Campaign For 24 Hour

By Joymala Bagchi

The Election Commission on Monday banned West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours in the ongoing assembly elections over her appeal for votes along communal lines.

The commission further condemned such statements as “portent with serious law and order problem” across the state.

The notice came along with a stern warning and advised Mamata to desist from using such statements while addressing the public during the elections.

The EC had earlier sent Mamata notices twice dated April 7 and April 8, citing violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

In a public speech on April 9, the Trinamool Congress chief had urged voters not to divide minority votes.

“I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands, don’t divide the minority votes after listening to the devil (shaitaan) person who had taken money from the BJP. He passes many communal statements and initiates clashes between the Hindus and the Muslims…Keep in mind that if the BJP comes into the government then you will be in severe danger,” she said.

On April 7, she also urged people to restrain (gherao) the central forces in case they create any disturbances.

“And if CAPF create disturbances, I tell you ladies, a group of you go and restrain (gherao) them while another group will go to cast their votes,” she had said.

The Commission stated that Mamata in her reply had “conveniently left out key parts of her speech, perhaps due to selective amnesia”.

The notice by the EC states that “Ms Banerjee while submitting her reply has again levelled allegation against CAPF and cited certain issues raised during phase wise election and had enclosed a list with the reply”.

The notice noted that “it is self-evident from the perusal of all the reports that the allegations mentioned in your hand-written note are factually incorrect, without any empirical evidence whatsoever and devoid of substance.

“In fact, it is a matter of deep regret that a media narrative was weaved hour after hour to misguide the biggest stakeholder which is the voters by a candidate who also happens to be the Hon’ble CM of the state. At least this should have been appreciated that the sideshow was fraught with immense potential to have adverse impact on law and order across West Bengal and maybe some other states. And all this was being done when the election process was/is on. There could not have been a greater misdemenour,” it said.

The commission observed that the view of the CM is “highly insinuating and provocative remarks laden with serious potential of breakdown of law and order and thereby adversely affecting the election process”.

The MCC is in force in the state. The next phase of the assembly polls will be held on April 17. (ANI)

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