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No proof of planned attack against Mamata Banerjee, no OK sought for event: EC observers

According to these sources based in Kolkata, Special Police Observer Vivek Dube and General Observer Ajay Nayak have informed the Commission, in their report submitted Saturday, that the incident which led to her injury was a security lapse.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi |
March 14, 2021 4:00:36 am
Mamata Banerjee attacked, EC Observers, Election Commission, Trinamool Congress, TMC, Kolkata news, West Bengal news, Indian express newsMamata Banerjee after being discharged from hospital on Friday. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

A day after the Trinamool Congress (TMC) alleged a “premeditated” attempt on Mamata Banerjee’s life, the Election Commission’s Observers in West Bengal have reported back to the poll panel saying there is no evidence of that, sources told The Sunday Express.

According to these sources based in Kolkata, Special Police Observer Vivek Dube and General Observer Ajay Nayak have informed the Commission, in their report submitted Saturday, that the incident which led to her injury was a security lapse.

Significantly, they have also pointed out that no permission was obtained for the Nandigram event as per EC norms and that is why there was no official video recording of the campaign by the election machinery.

Moreover, the two Observers are said to have recommended action against some officials of the district administration for alleged lapses.

Their report, it is learned, does not describe the incident as an accident either, given that there is little evidence to arrive at any conclusion.

“The observations in the report are based on the inputs received from local administration officials and Returning Officer,” said a source.

The three Election Commissioners are expected to deliberate on the report filed by the Observers and the one by the West Bengal Chief Secretary on Sunday.

The poll panel had sought these reports after the Chief Minister was injured on March 10 during her campaign in Nandigram, from where she also filed her nomination for the upcoming assembly elections. Banerjee had alleged that she was targeted by a group of “four or five people” who had pushed her outside a temple where she had stopped to offer prayers. She was admitted to hospital with bone injuries in her left ankle and foot and mild injuries in her right shoulder, forearm and neck.

Banerjee’s party has alleged that she was attacked, calling it a “premeditated” attempt on her life and “part of a deep-rooted conspiracy”.

The BJP had said this was “tactics to gain sympathy.” Several Opposition leaders had condemned the “attack” and state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had called it “siyasi pakhand (political hypocrisy).”

In a petition submitted by six party MPs to the EC in New Delhi on Friday — the second petition in three days; the first was submitted in Kolkata on Wednesday — the TMC alleged the attack on Mamata was orchestrated through social media comments by BJP leaders, the removal of the Director-General of the state police, and the “planting of eyewitnesses”.

A BJP delegation led by Union Minister Piyush Goyal and party general secretary Bhupender Yadav had also met EC officials Friday and demanded an independent inquiry.

Yadav said that they had asked the EC to make the video of the incident public and that the BJP had asked for special observers to be appointed for the high-profile seat of Nandigram, which will see a contest between Mamata and her lieutenant-turned-BJP-leader Suvendu Adhikari.

TMC’s earlier claim that the alleged attack was connected to the removal of the state police chief by the EC had drawn a sharp response from the poll panel. While the Commission described the Nandigram incident as “unfortunate”, it criticised TMC’s allegation that the Commission had removed the police chief at the BJP’s behest. “It looks undignified to even respond to the allegations of all this being done at the behest of a particular political party,” the EC had said in its letter to the party on Thursday.

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