The Election Commission on Monday banned West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours.
The poll panel accused her of violating the Model Code of Conduct with her comments allegedly asking voters to attack central security forces and for appealing to Muslims to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Election Commission said in its order on Monday that Banerjee made “highly-insinuating and provocative remarks laden with serious potential of breakdown of law and order and thereby adversely affecting the election process”. The poll panel warned Banerjee against making such comments while the Model Code of Conduct is in place.
The chief minister said she will stage a dharna on Tuesday from 12 pm to protest against the poll panel’s “undemocratic and unconstitutional decision”.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said it was a “black day” for democracy. “EC stands for Extremely Compromised,” he tweeted.
The Election Commission had issued her notice for comments about central forces on April 9. Another notice was issued to Banerjee on April 7 for “openly demanding votes on communal grounds”.
The poll panel highlighted the remarks by Banerjee made at a rally in Tarakeshwar in Hooghly district. “I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands; don’t divide the minority votes after listening to the devil person who had taken money from the BJP,” she had said. “He passes many communal statements and initiate clashes between the Hindu and the Muslims. He is one of the apostles of the BJP, a BJP comrade. The comrades of CPM [Communist Party of India (Marxist)] and BJP is roaming around with the money given by BJP to divide the minority votes.”
On April 7, at a rally in Cooch Behar city, the West Bengal chief minister had allegedly urged people to corner the security forces if they tried to intimidate voters. “If the CRPF tries to create any trouble, I urge the women in rural areas to gherao them,” she had allegedly said. “Some of you should confine them while others will go to vote… You should repeat it to prevent them from intimidating voters.”
Elections in West Bengal are being held in eight phases. The results will be announced on May 2.