In an unprecedented move, Election Commission today cut short the campaigning period in nine Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal following yesterday’s violence in Kolkata.
The Commission has directed that after 10 pm tomorrow, there will be no public meetings or rallies, display of election matter and other election campaign-related activities. The campaigning for the seats was scheduled to end at 5 pm on Friday.
Briefing media in New Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar said, the order will be effective for constituencies of Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Daimond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Uttar and Kolkata Dakshin Constituency.
He said, this is probably for the first time such step has been taken by the poll body in exercise of its powers under Article 324. He said, the Commission expresses deep anguish at the vandalism done to the statue of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
The Election Commission has relieved State Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya from his post for interfering in conduct of elections by directing State Chief Electoral Officer. West Bengal Chief Secretary will look after Home Department.
EC has also removed ADG (CID) of West Bengal Rajeev Kumar from his responsibility and ordered him to report at the Ministry of Home Affairs by tomorrow 10 AM.
Mamta Banerjee reacts sharply
TMC president and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday questioned the poll panel, which has cut short campaigning by a day in the state in view of incidents of poll violence. “EC is acting at the behest of BJP,” Banerjee said in a press conference held at Kalighat on Wednesday night.
Attacking PM Narendra Modi, the TMC supremo said, “Modi knows that the person standing against him, challenging him is strong, which is why he is doing all these tactics.” Alleging that the violence that broke out in Kolkata yesterday was “Amit Shah’s doing,” Banerjee questioned the poll panel for not taking action against the BJP president. She said, “Why didn’t EC sack Amit Shah and take action?”
She also claimed that the PM Narendra Modi had been given time to finish his rallies as the EC has barred election campaigning in West Bengal after 10 pm tomorrow. She said, “Tomorrow Modi has a rally in Bengal and after that campaigns will stop. Is this a democratic decision? All RSS people are controlling Election Commission.”
She termed EC’s decision as “unfair, unethical and politically biased,” and said that PM Modi had been given time to finish his two rallies tomorrow. Lambasting the poll panel, the TMC chief said, “Why don’t you send show cause notice to Modi, Shah? Are you working for them? We respect you (EC), you should respect other leaders too.”