The Election Commission on Friday issued a notice to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking response on her alleged comment asking people to attack central security forces, NDTV reported. She has been asked to reply by 11 am on Saturday.
The Election Commission said that during her speeches on March 28 and April 7, Banerjee had allegedly accused the central forces of intimidating voters and urged women to retaliate against them.
“Who gave so much power to them that the central police are threatening the women without allowing them to cast their votes?” Banerjee said in an interview on March 28, the Hindustan Times reported. “I saw the same thing in 2019 [Lok Sabha elections], I saw the same thing in 2016 [Assembly elections].
On April 7 at a rally in Coochbehar city, the West Bengal chief minister allegedly urged people to attack the security forces.
“I know under whose instruction they [central force] beat up and how they beat up,” she allegedly said. “It is your duty to save the family of the people. If any of our mothers and sisters suffer a single strike with the stick, attack them with ladle, spuds and knife. I am telling you. It is the right of women. And if any of our mothers and sisters are denied entry in the voting booth all of you come out and revolt.”
In its notice, the Election Commission said that Banerjee’s comments were “completely false and provocative” and referred to them as an attempt to “berate and vilify Central Paramilitary Forces during the electoral process”, The Indian Express reported. The poll panel added that Banerjee’s statements were causing “extreme demoralisation” among the forces, according to PTI.
The Commission said that it will take actions against the Trinamool Congress leader for violating the Model Code of Conduct, as well as under Sections 186, 189, 505 of the Indian Penal Code. The IPC provisions deal with offences related to obstructing a public servant from discharge of duty, giving threat of injury to public servant, and incitement.
Meanwhile, Banerjee said that she did not care about the poll panel’s notice, PTI reported. “I will continue speaking about the CPRF until they stop working for the BJP,” she said. “Once they stop doing that, I will salute them.”
The West Bengal chief minister accused the Election Commission of working on BJP’s orders. “I wonder why there is no MCC [model code of conduct] violation when the PM campaigns on polling days,” she said at a rally in Purba Bardhaman district.
This is the Election Commission’s second notice to Banerjee this week. On April 7, the poll body had issued a notice to the chief minister for appealing to Muslims to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party. The election body had then asked the chief minister to explain her remarks by Friday, failing which, the EC said, it would take action.
West Bengal will go to the fourth phase of polling in the eight-round Assembly elections on Saturday. The results will be out on May 2.