'Has Bengal poll schedule been decided on Modi-Shah's advice'
Kolkata: Questioning the "inconceivable" eight-phase Assembly elections in Bengal when other states are voting on a single day, Trinamool Congress Chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Friday accused the BJP-led Central government of "misusing" all its power to defeat her — the "only woman Chief Minister" in the country at present.
Banerjee also questioned the election schedule in districts in two or three parts and alleged that the Election Commission of India drew up the schedule on the requisition of the ruling BJP.
The Chief Minister asked that if Assam polls can be conducted in three phases and Tamil Nadu in one, why were Bengal polls being prolonged? She also alleged that the decision was taken to suit the convenience of the BJP.
"Has this been done following the instructions of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to facilitate their campaigning so that they can finish Assam and Tamil Nadu before coming to Bengal? This won't be of much help to the BJP though," Banerjee said at a press conference in Kolkata after the election dates were announced.
Assuring her party's landslide victory despite the forthcoming polls spanning over 34 days, she said: "I am the daughter of this land. The BJP will experience hands down defeat as we are from the grassroot level. You all may bring all your leaders from outside but mothers and sisters of Bengal will give a befitting reply."
"I am the only woman Chief Minister in the country at present. They are afraid of me and that is the reason the entire Central government with all its organisations has hatched this plan to defeat me. I feel really sorry. But after the elections, you only have to give the best award as I will come up with a majority," Banerjee maintained.
The election in Bengal this time is going to be held not only in eight phases but it is for the first time when the polls in 11 districts, including Kolkata, have been split over two days and South 24-Parganas is going to poll in three phases.
"They have divided districts in part 1 part 2. Since we are powerful in South 24-Parganas, it is being done in three phases. They are teaching us BA part 1, part 2," Banerjee quipped.
It needs a special mention that both the 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls were held in six phases. This comes when Tamil Nadu with 234 seats and Kerala with 140 seats are going for single-phase election and three-phase polls will be held in Assam.
"Since we have a strong hold in South 24-Parganas, the elections there have been split into three phases. We have the highest regard for the Election Commission. But I came to know from sources that a list containing the same polling dates was found in a BJP office recently. Have the dates have been set as per the BJP's requisition," she said, indicating that the election schedule for Bengal was prepared in such a manner that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home minister Amit Shah got enough time to campaign for their candidates here.
Urging the Election Commission of India to ensure that BJP does not distribute money using its agencies, Banerjee said: "I humbly request the Commission so see that the BJP, that has the support of the central agencies and the Government of India, is not allowed to misuse their power." The TMC supremo alleged that the BJP was trying to divide the people on religion. "They are diving people on lines of Hindu-Muslim, Bengali and non-Bengali. No problem. The game is on and we will play and win."