Union Defence Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party veteran Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said Mamata Banerjee’s conduct was unbecoming of a chief minister, reported ANI. Singh’s comments as Banerjee staged a silent dharna at Gandhi Murti in Kolkata to protest against the Election Commission’s order barring her from campaigning for 24 hours.
“You talk nonsense about our PM,” Singh said at public rally in West Bengal’s Swarupnagar. “Why do you blame him for everything? I have also been a chief minister, I know how a CM should behave.”
Singh castigated Banerjee for protesting against the Election Commission. “EC has banned her for 24 hours citing MCC [Model Code of Conduct] violation,” he added. “She’s now against the EC. Didi, can you spare anyone?”
The poll panel had imposed the ban on Monday, accusing the chief minister 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 BJP. After the ban order, Banerjee announced the dharna to protest against the poll panel’s “undemocratic and unconstitutional decision”.
Singh also alleged that bombs were being made to attack political opponents in West Bengal. “I saw on TV that there’s a bomb factory here,” Singh said. “I thought it was a government factory, but bombs were made to attack opponents. How was it possible to make bombs under the CM’s leadership? If BJP government is formed, there will be either bombs or us.”
Elections in West Bengal are being held in eight phases. Four phases of voting have been held so far. The results will be announced on May 2.
Politicians criticise the EC’s campaign ban
Several political leaders called out the Election Commission’s ban order as being openly favouring the BJP.
Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut alleged that the Election Commission’s decision to bar Banerjee from campaigning was done at the behest of the BJP. “It is a direct attack on democracy and sovereignty of independent institutions of India,” he said in a tweet. “Solidarity with Bengal Tigress.” In March, the Shiv Sena had extended support to Banerjee ahead of the Bengal polls.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin asked the Election Commission to ensure a level playing field for all parties and to maintain impartiality and neutrality. “The faith in our democracy rests on free and fair elections,” he tweeted.
Abhijit Mukherjee, a Congress leader and son of former President Pranab Mukherjee, said that imposing a campaign ban on Banerjee while ignoring the “hate speeches” of BJP leaders was nothing but a “naked display of favouritism” by former Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik said the poll panel’s decision was not right. “It is not appropriate to ban a leader like Mamata Banerjee that too from campaigning for her own party,” he told ANI. “The decision appeared to be a politically motivated election. I appeal the EC to withdraw the ban as soon as possible.”