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In run-up, Mamata slammed Central forces, urged voters to ‘gherao’ them

The Bengal government has been attacking the forces since they arrived in the state before the declaration of the poll schedule, and the criticism continued until end of campaigning for the fourth phase Saturday.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Cooch Behar (wb) |
Updated: April 11, 2021 7:31:01 am
In run-up, Mamata slammed Central forces, urged voters to ‘gherao’ themChief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a campaign rally in support of party candidates Ratna Chatterjee and Partha Chatterjee in Kolkata on Thursday. (PTI file photo)

THE death of four people in firing by the CISF in “self-defence”, during polling in Cooch Behar in north Bengal on Saturday, comes after days of trading of charges between the Trinamool and BJP over the presence of Central forces for the elections.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly accused the Central forces of acting at the behest of the Centre (read the BJP) and of atrocities. She has even urged people to “gherao” the forces if they see any “wrongdoing”. The BJP, including Home Minister Amit Shah, has repeatedly stressed their “patriotism”. Senior Trinamool leader and minister Rabindranath Ghosh on Friday told voters to go to polling booths with lathis, to guard against the CRPF “creating disturbance”.

The Bengal government has been attacking the forces since they arrived in the state before the declaration of the poll schedule, and the criticism continued until end of campaigning for the fourth phase Saturday. The Election Commission had served a notice on Banerjee for her “prima facie completely false, provocative and intemperate statements” against the Central forces, and in her reply Saturday she stood by her remarks.

On April 7, addressing a meeting in the Cooch Behar Uttar Assembly seat, Banerjee said: “CRPF jadi gondogol kore, oder gherao kore rakhben. Ek dal gherao korben, aar ek dal vote dite jaben. Vote ta kintu nosto korbe na, tahole ora moja peye jabe. Etai oder chal (If the CRPF creates disturbance, gherao them. One group should gherao them, and another should go cast their vote. Don’t waste your vote, or else they will have fun. That is their plan).”

At a meeting in Sitalkuchi the same day, the CM said, “Central force eshe bhoy dekhabe, bolbe ‘Vote nahin dena hai’. Apnara jot badhben, bolben ‘Tum log yahan se bhago, hum log vote denge’ (Central forces will come and scare you, tell you, ‘You can’t vote’. You should get together and say,. ‘Get out of here, we will vote).”

Accusing the Central forces of acting at Shah’s behest, Banerjee added, “The CRPF shouldn’t obstruct them from entering polling booths. I respect the real jawans but I do not respect those creating nuisance, attacking women and harassing people at the behest of the BJP.”

On April 8, at a public meeting at Domjur in Howrah, the day campaigning ended for the fourth phase, the CM repeated the accusation that the Central forces were working on instructions from Delhi. “They are committing atrocities on villagers before polling day, many of them are harassing women. They are asking people to vote for the BJP.”

Then, a day before polling in Cooch Behar, North Bengal Development Minister and TMC candidate from Natabari Assembly seat in the area Rabindranath Ghosh told Trinamool voters to go to polling booths with lathis and take on the CRPF and BJP goons if they “create disturbance”.

“People will go to the booths to cast their vote. If the CRPF and goons of BJP create disturbance, people will resist. Trinamool voters will go to booths. If they face obstacles, they will do whatever is necessary. For self-defence they will use lathis. They will carry lathis to polling booths… It is clear, they will not sit helplessly,” he said.

Earlier, Banerjee claimed that a girl was molested by a CRPF personnel on April 6 at Ramnagar in Tarakeshwar Police Station area, saying a complaint had been lodged. She stood by this charge in her reply to the EC on Saturday.

The BJP and Amit Shah have accused Mamata of pushing Bengal towards anarchy with such statements. Addressing a press conference in Kolkata on Friday, Shah said, “I have never come across a CM or the president of a political party who uses the kind of words Mamata Banerjee is using against Central forces. Is she trying to create anarchy? She must have some common sense and should know that during elections Central forces do not function under the Home Ministry. They are under the control of the Election Commission now.”

Shah said the TMC’s attacks on Central forces showed its “frustration” at the fact that it is losing.

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