West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Saturday asked the Election Commission to ensure that the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in the state on Sunday are “peaceful and impartial”. Banerjee requested the poll panel to ensure that voting takes place without the “undue interference of the central government”, PTI reported.
Elections are under way in Kolkata North and South, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Jaynagar (SC) and Mathurapur (SC) seats.
“In the final phase of the election tomorrow [Sunday], I would request your good office to kindly ensure that election is completed peacefully, impartially and without any undue interference of the Central government and any intervention by the ruling party at the centre,” Banerjee wrote in the letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.
Voting will be held in nine Lok Sabha constituencies in and around Kolkata. The state has witnessed several episodes of violence in the prior phases with three poll-related deaths so far. The Election Commission had deployed 770 companies of central security forces, which is the largest security detail until now, News18 reported.
However, Banerjee also lashed out at the Election Commission for allegedly taking decisions that were “illegal, unconstitutional and biased” during the elections. She said that the poll body should “protect democratic institutions” and the “federal structure of the country” and extend due to the Opposition, according to PTI.
The West Bengal chief minister also mentioned the roadshow of Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah, which led to violence in Kolkata. “The roadshow was itself a deliberate, intentional and a criminal conspiracy to vandalise the culture and heritage of Kolkata and West Bengal and also to defame the West Bengal government and its people,” she wrote.
Banerjee also questioned the appointment of two retired government officers as the Election Commission’s special observers. “These two special observers have shown partisan attitude and have always complied with the instructions given time and again by the central government and the ruling party at the Centre,” she wrote. “All these issues were brought to the notice of the Election Commission of India but no justice has been done.”
On May 14, clashes broke out at Shah’s roadshow. Student activists associated with the Left Front, Trinamool Congress, and the BJP got into a scuffle and stones were pelted near a college hostel on Bishan Sarani street in Kolkata. The statue of Bengali philosopher Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar near Vidyasagar College was vandalised and protestors set the college gate on fire. Both Banerjee and Shah strongly condemned the incident and blamed each other’s parties for being behind it.
On May 16, the West Bengal government appointed a Special Investigation Team to investigate the vandalism of Vidyasagar’s statue. At a rally in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to erect another statue at the same spot where it was vandalised. However, Banerjee refused the offer saying that her party does not need the money to build the statue. She said that the BJP will never be able to restore the 200-year-old heritage.