West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday lauded the Madras High Court for rebuking the Election Commission for not enforcing Covid-19 protocols during election rallies.
Earlier on Monday, the Madras High Court said the Election Commission should be booked on charges of murder for allowing rallies to continue in poll-bound states, despite an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases in the country. “Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?” the court asked. “Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of the pandemic.”
During an address to Trinamool Congress workers in north Kolkata, Banerjee again reiterated her allegation that the Election Commission was taking orders from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“I welcome the Madras High Court order, which clearly said the EC cannot escape its responsibility,” Banerjee said. “Both Prime Minister Modi and EC are responsible for the [current] situation [of Covid spreading in the state]. While mass pyres were lit at crematoriums, Modi was busy delivering ‘Mann ki baat’ speeches.”
Banerjee also called for the withdrawal of the central forces in the eighth and last phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections. “I am requesting please withdraw the 2 lakh-plus central forces drawn from Covid-affected states, who are camping in schools and colleges...hampering Covid management operations...75% of them may have contracted the infection.”
The West Bengal chief minister also accused Modi of not focussing on the pandemic and instead “camping out” in her state for months. “They did not firm up a plan to boost the oxygen supply network in those months but spent money from PM Cares fund to bribe people,” she alleged. “I was told that some were offered even Rs 25 crore to campaign for BJP.” However, she asserted that her party will secure over 200 seats in the state.
Banerjee also claimed that the Election Commission had prepared a list under the BJP’s orders to arrest important Trinamool Congress leaders from Kolkata’s Entally and Belgachia areas. She also said that she will move the court against the Election Commission and was preparing documents for it.
The Election Commission had on Sunday dismissed Banerjee’s allegations about plans to detain her party workers, reported PTI. “Such statements supposedly attributed to ECI officers and observers are absolutely baseless, false and misleading,” the poll panel had said. “No such instructions have been given by any observer, Chief Electoral Officer or officer of the Commission to act against workers of any party(ies).”
On April 18, Banerjee had demanded that Modi should resign for mishandling the coronavirus crisis, alleging that the prime minister had failed in planning to contain the rise in the number of infections. She made the comment after announcing her decision to cancel her campaign in the state elections in Kolkata. Banerjee also cut down the timings of her election rallies in other districts to 30 minutes.
As of Monday, West Bengal has 88,800 active Covid-19 cases, 6,44,209 recoveries and the toll stood at 10,941, according to the Union health ministry data.