The Calcutta High Court on Monday refused to pass any injunction on the Election Commission’s decision to keep Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mandal under surveillance, PTI reported. The Election Commission had on Sunday said Mondal will be under strict surveillance during the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday, Hindustan Times reported.
The West Bengal chief electoral officer issued an order saying Mondal, who is the party’s Birbhum district president, will not have access to his mobile phone and he will be under surveillance from 6 pm on Sunday to 7 am on Tuesday by an executive magistrate and a central armed police force staff. A videographer will record Mondal’s movement during this period, the order said.
Polling officers had requested the state’s chief electoral officer to place Mondal under house for a “free and fair elections”. Eight constituencies in West Bengal, including Birbhum and Bolpur seats in Birbhum district, will vote on Monday.
Unidentified officials said the decision to place Mondal under surveillance followed complaints from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) regarding alleged inflammatory speeches and threats made by Mondal.
Mondal told The Telegraph that he has been put under surveillance in an “unjust manner”. “There are so many BJP leaders, including state president Dilip Ghosh, who have been issuing threats in their election speeches,” he said. “But they were not kept under surveillance. This surveillance will not work because I have already briefed my party men on the strategy for tomorrow [Monday].”
In April 2016, Mondal was kept under similar surveillance for a day when Assembly elections were held in Birbhum district.
On Sunday, the executive magistrate reportedly could not trace Mondal from 6 pm to 9 pm as he went on a tour of the district’s party offices. “The Election Commission of India must have gone mad,” Mondal said, according to Hindustan Times. “It is acting on orders from Narendra Modi. This surveillance will not affect me in any way. And I don’t need my mobile phone to contact my men. I can use any phone. Our vote share went up despite the surveillance in 2016. The same thing will happen in this election.”
Mondal said he met with officials in party offices in Suri, Muraroi and Labhpur. “I prescribed the right pills for every disease.”