EC decision taken at BJP's direction
Kolkata: Calling the Election Commission of India's decision to curtail campaigning time for the Lok Sabha elections in the state and remove two senior officers as "unprecedented, unconstitutional, unethical and politically biased," Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that the ECI is working at the behest of the BJP, its president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
She also wondered whether the directives were due to the "threat" issued to the poll panel by Shah during a media meet in Delhi on Wednesday morning.
The Election Commission announced: "No election campaigning to be held in 9 parliamentary constituencies of Bengal — Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, South and North Kolkata from 10 pm tomorrow (Thursday) till the conclusion of polls".
Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya has been removed and his work will be presided over by Chief Secretary Malay De. The Election Commission also ordered the removal of Additional Director General, CID, Rajeev Kumar from his posting.
Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, who is in charge of Bengal, said Bhattacharya "stands relieved" from his current charge immediately, "for having interfered in the process of conducting elections" by directing the state Chief Electoral Officer, which he was not supposed to. He further added that Rajeev Kumar has been attached to the Ministry of Home Affairs and should report to his new assignment by 10 am on Thursday.
Bhattacharya had written a letter to the Election Commission complaining about the highhandedness of the Central Forces.
Bimal Chatterjee, former Advocate General, said the decision to end the campaign by 10 pm has "infringed the rights of the candidates."
Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, alleged that the EC has imposed the decision as Modi's campaign is coming to an end on Thursday. "I have rescheduled my programme. I will address two rallies at Mathurapur and Diamond Harbour and will take part in a roadshow in Behala and South Kolkata. It will be very stressful but I will have to do it."
She further said that it is most unfortunate that those who had vandalised the statue of Vidyasagar have been rewarded. "Amit Shah had come to the city to organize riots. BJP goons had beaten up students of Calcutta University and later destroyed the statue of the great social reformer. There was a riot-like situation. The EC should have issued show-cause notice to Shah. But it did not do anything. She further alleged that Jain, the Deputy Election Commissioner, had asked the police to help BJP host the roadshow.
"The destruction of the statue of Vidyasagar has hit the sentiments of the people of Bengal and the EC has taken this decision just to divert the attention of the people," she remarked.
She categorically maintained that the law and order situation is not bad in Bengal. "In the sixth phase, there was trouble at Keshpur and that too because of the Central Forces. They had opened fire and were found campaigning for the BJP," she added. She also alleged that the EC has reduced the time of the campaign of the candidates as "Nirmala Sitharaman had said that I should not be allowed to campaign."