scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Friday, May 07, 2021

Elections 2021 Highlights: BJP not to hold big public meetings in Bengal any further amid Covid surge

Election Highlights: Earlier, addressing a rally in Bengal, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is responsible for the "skyrocketing" Covid-19 cases in the country and therefore "he must resign”.

By: Express Web Desk | Kolkata, New Delhi |
Updated: April 21, 2021 9:09:40 am
Amit ShahAmit Shah campaigns at Balurghat in South Dinajpur district on Monday. (PTI photo)

Election 2021 Highlights: BJP has said that it would not hold big public meetings in West Bengal any further, the PTI reported. The party said it has decided to stop big public events in West Bengal as it is much needed to break the chain of Covid infections. It has been decided that only small public meetings with not more than 500 people will be held by PM Narendra Modi and other central ministers, the party stated. All these public meetings will be held in open spaces following Covid guidelines, it added.

Ahead of the sixth phase of polls in West Bengal slated for April 22, the Election Commission on Monday transferred superintendents of police of Purba Bardhaman and Birbhum districts. The poll watchdog also shifted out the Asansol-Durgapur police commissioner and Bolpur SDPO. EC said the transferred officers should not be given any poll-related posts.

Earlier, addressing a rally in Bengal, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is responsible for the “skyrocketing” Covid-19 cases in the country and therefore “he must resign”. “He is the man who is responsible. No planning, no administrative capabilities, complete inefficiency. Neither did he plan ahead, nor did he allow anyone to do so,” Mamata said.

Hours after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi suspended his political engagements in Bengal due to India’s ongoing Covid-19 surge, TMC MP Derek O’Brien on Sunday announced that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will not be campaigning in Kolkata. “Besides this, the Chief Minister has also decided to hold rallies for not more than 30 minutes in other districts,” the senior TMC leader added. Kolkata reported over 2,000 new cases, the highest in Bengal on Sunday.

Live Blog

Ahead of the sixth phase of polls in West Bengal slated for April 22, the Election Commission on Monday transferred superintendents of police of Purba Bardhaman and Birbhum districts. The poll watchdog also shifted out the Asansol-Durgapur police commissioner and Bolpur SDPO. Follow live updates below

22:16 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Imams in Bengal urge EC to hold elections in Samserganj seat after Eid

Bengal Imams’ Association, the apex body of mosque committees in the state, on Monday urged the Election Commission to set a date at least three days after Eid-ul-fitr for voting in Samserganj assembly seat, where polls were countermanded following the death of Congress candidate Rezaul Haque.

Haque, who had contracted COVID-19, died last Thursday.

Md Yahia, the president of the association, said in a statement that Eid is likely to be celebrated on May 14 or one day earlier, on May 13, depending on the sighting of the moon.

Polling in Murshidabad districts Samserganj constituency, where Muslims make for the major chunk of the voters, should he held at least three days after Eid to "enable everyone cast their ballots", after having wrapped up all festivities, he suggested. (PTI)

22:13 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Bengal Congress chief urges EC to defer last three phases of assembly polls

Amid the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in West Bengal, the Congress on Monday urged the Election Commission (EC) to defer the last three phases of assembly polls in the state.

In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked him to take a call on what was more important at this juncture — lives of people or polls to choose their representatives.

“I plead that election, if at all is to be done, should be after 'Ramjan' (Ramadan) is over and the present pandemic is diluted," the senior Congress leader said, reminding the CEC that two candidates in Bengal have died after contracting COVID-19.

Pradip Kumar Nandi, the Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate from Jangipur, and Rezaul Haque, the Congress nominee from Samserganj, succumbed to the infection last week. (PTI)

22:09 (IST)19 Apr 2021
26% candidates contesting phase 7 West Bengal polls declared criminal cases against themselves: ADR

Twenty-six per cent of the 284 candidates contesting in the phase seven of the West Bengal Assembly polls this year have declared criminal cases against themselves, a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms stated.

The West Bengal Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all 284 candidates from 36 constituencies contesting in the polls to be held on April 26.

"Out of 284 candidates analysed, 73 (26 per cent) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. About 60 (21 per cent) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves," the poll rights body said.

Among the major parties, 9 (69 per cent) out of 13 candidates analysed from the CPI(M), 19 (53 per cent) out of 36 candidates analysed from the AITC, 19 (53 per cent) out of 36 candidates analysed from the BJP and 9 (47per cent) out of 19 candidates analysed from the Congress have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

Among the major parties, 7(54 per cent) out of 13 candidates analysed from the CPI(M), 16(44 per cent) out of 36 candidates analysed from the BJP, 14(39 per cent) out of 36 candidates analysed from the AITC and 7(37 per cent) out of 19 candidates analysed from the Congress have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits. (PTI)

22:07 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Campaigning comes to an end for 6th phase of Bengal assembly polls

Curtains came down on Monday evening on the campaigning for 43 assembly constituencies of West Bengal which will go to polls on April 22 in the sixth phase of elections.

In view of the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state, the Election Commission (EC) has extended the silence period from 48 hours to 72 hours in each of the remaining three phases of the assembly polls to be held on April 22, 26 and 29.

Polling will be held between 7 am and 6.30 pm at 14,480 polling stations in 17 constituencies in North 24 Parganas district, nine each in Nadia and Uttar Dinajpur districts and eight in Purba Bardhaman district.

Altogether 306 contestants including the BJP's national vice president Mukul Roy, senior TMC leaders and ministers Jyotipriya Mallick and Chandrima Bhattacharya, and CPI(M) leader Tanmay Bhattacharya are in the fray.

The political fate of film director Raj Chakraborty and actress Koushani Mukherjee, who were fielded by the Trinamool Congress, will also be sealed in this phase of the election. (PTI)

20:35 (IST)19 Apr 2021
BJP not to hold big public meetings in West Bengal poll campaign any further

BJP has said that it would not hold big public meetings in West Bengal any further, the PTI reported. The party said it has decided to stop big public events in West Bengal as it is much needed to break the chain of Covid infections. It has been decided that only small public meetings with not more than 500 people will be held by PM Narendra Modi and other central ministers, the party stated. All these public meetings will be held in open spaces following Covid guidelines, it added. (PTI)

20:06 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Bengal shouldn't choose powers with defective record of social justice, economic policies: Amartya Sen

Bengal should not be a party to the 'national degeneration' by choosing to be governed by central leaders instead of the local ones as that would strengthen the concentration of power in the hands of those whose record on economic policy and social justice are 'seriously defective', Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said.

Lauding the Mamata Banerjee government for its welfare programmes, especially the ones meant for girls, the beneficial expansion of rural infrastructure and assurance of food security, the renowned economist, however, stressed that corruption issues in the state have to be addressed.

In an interview with PTI, Sen rued the fact that identity politics has reared its ugly head in Bengal's political landscape and blamed the flag-bearers of Hindutva for sharpening the communal divisions, something that Bengali luminaries — from Rabindranath Tagore to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose — had 'worked hard to replace with a peaceful understanding'.

'If Bengal ends up being governed by central rulers, not local leaders, it will vastly strengthen the concentration of power in India in the hands of those whose conception of minority rights is extremely limited and whose record on economic policy and social justice seems seriously defective,” he said.

"Bengal should not have to be a party to that national degeneration," Sen added when asked whether the outcome of the assembly elections will have a bearing on national politics. (PTI)

18:08 (IST)19 Apr 2021
SC rejects plea seeking 100% matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs vote count

The Supreme Court Monday dismissed a plea seeking 100 per cent matching of the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips with the electronic voting machines (EVMs) vote count in the elections, saying it will not interfere in the middle of poll process.

“We are not going to interfere in the middle of election process,” a bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said.

The bench asked the counsel, appearing for petitioner Gopal Seth, as to whether they had made any representation to the Election Commission (EC) on this.

“Yes. They (EC) had appreciated our representation,” the counsel said, adding that free and fair election is a right of the people. He said the petitioner had earlier approached the Calcutta High Court on this issue.

The counsel argued the high court had said that the apex court had earlier passed order on this.

"The special leave petition is dismissed. As a sequel to the above, pending interlocutory applications, if any, stand disposed of," the bench said in its order.

In April 2019, the apex court had directed the EC to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment in the Lok Sabha polls and said it would provide greater satisfaction not just to political parties but the entire electorate. (PTI)

18:05 (IST)19 Apr 2021
TMC speaking in different voices on leader being probed by CBI, ED: Amit Shah

Asserting that those involved in stealing funds meant for the people of West Bengal will be put behind bars, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday claimed that the Trinamool Congress is speaking in different voices on the party's youth leader Vinay Mishra, who is being investigated by the CBI and the ED.

The two central agencies are probing Mishra in connection with cases related to cattle smuggling and illegal coal mining.

The Narendra Modi government is apprehending those who are stealing coal, Shah said at a public meeting at Pandabeswar in Paschim Bardhaman district.

He claimed that while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently asserted in a news channel that the TMC has nothing to do with Mishra, party MP Abhishek Banerjee said in another media outlet at the same time that he is being framed.

Mishra is a general secretary of the Trinamool Youth Congress, which is headed by Abhishek.

Shah said that Paschim Bardhaman district is well- known for theft of coal and "one Mishra" was recently arrested.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested Vinay Mishra's brother Vikas in a money laundering case in connection with the illegal mining of coal. (PTI)

17:12 (IST)19 Apr 2021
EC transfers four police officers in Bengal, says they shouldn't be given any poll-related post

Election Commission has transferred four police officers with immediate effect and said that they should not be given any election-related posts. The transferred officers are Purba Bardhaman SP Bhaskar Mukerji, Asansol-Durgapur CP Sukesh Jain, Birbhum SP Miraj Khalid and Bilour, Birbhum SDPO Abhishek Roy.

16:22 (IST)19 Apr 2021
‘I can give advice, or have a role in implementing policies… I want to give latter a try’: Ashok Lahiri

Ashok Lahiri, former chief economic advisor under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh governments, who has now been fielded by the BJP as a candidate from the Balurghat Assembly seat in the West Bengal elections, tells The Indian Express why he joined the saffron party and what plans he has for Bengal’s economy. Read the full interview here

15:57 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Bengal BJP candidate's house attacked

A BJP candidate's house was attacked with crude bombs in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district, police said on Monday. The house of Sanmoy Bandopadhyay, BJP's Panihati candidate, was attacked late on Sunday, they said.

The incident happened in the Khardaha police station area where Bandopadhyay lives, they added.

A person was arrested in connection with the incident, a senior officer of the Barrackpore Police said. There was no report of any injury to anyone, he said. Further investigations are underway, he added. (PTI)

15:54 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Urge EC with folded hands to curtail poll schedule amid COVID-19 surge: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday urged the Election Commission to re-consider its decision to stick to the original poll schedule, as she stressed that wrapping up the last three phases of polls on a single day or at least in two days would check the spread of COVID-19 to a certain extent.

Indicating that the EC may have decided against clubbing the remaining phases at the behest of the BJP, Banerjee, while addressing her rally here in Uttar Dinajpur, requested the poll panel to prioritise public health.

“With folded hands, I request the EC to hold the next three phases on a single day. If not one day, conduct it in two days and save one day. Please don't take your decision based on what the BJP says... Please ensure that you protect public health by curtailing the poll schedule, even if it is by one day,” the TMC supremo said. (PTI)

15:51 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Rahul Gandhi's decision to keep off Bengal campaign over COVID an "alibi", he has sensed defeat: Prasad

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Monday mocked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for suspending his election rallies in West Bengal amid spurting COVID-19 cases, calling it an "alibi" in the face of defeat.

The Union law and IT minister also attacked the Mamata Banerjee government, calling it an embodiment of "misrule, corruption and (Muslim) appeasement".

"It's an alibi as the captain found his ship sinking," Prasad told a press conference while referring to Gandhi's decision to stay away from electioneering in West Bengal due to the second wave of the COVID-19.

As concerns mounted over massive election rallies turning out to be superspreader events contributing to the COVID-19 surge, Prasad said the Centre was doing everything to tackle the contagion.

"The TMC is saying a lot of things about COVID management. Did Mamata ji attend the meetings of all the chief ministers with the Prime Minister on COVID? The answer is no," he said. (PTI)

13:43 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Reached out to PM Modi for additional vaccines, medicines: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she has sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for additional vaccines and medicines in the wake of spiraling COVID-19 cases in the state.She also said the state government will spell out measures to deal with the second wave of the pandemic later in the day.

"With the massive surge in #COVID19 cases across India, GoWB is taking all necessary steps to protect its people. I've reached out (to) the PM to help us with additional medicines and vaccines required," Banerjee tweeted.


   

12:11 (IST)19 Apr 2021
PM Modi responsible for Covid-19 case surge: Mamata Banerjee at Bengal rally

Addressing a rally in Bengal, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that the Prime Minister is responsible for the "skyrocketing" of covid-19 cases in the country and therefore "he must resign.” “He is the man who is responsible. No planning, no administrative capabilities, complete inefficiency. Neither did he plan ahead, nor did he allow anyone to do so,” Mamata said.



11:10 (IST)19 Apr 2021
A city’s choice: College Street bookstores to Jorasanko workshops

At the heart of Kolkata lies a bundle of contradictions. On tracks that cut through tarred roads, trams trundle unhurriedly. Around them, the whirl of new money and luxury vehicles, speeding along roads that are one-way at one time, another way the next. Large bungalows and gleaming glass edifices sit next door to heritage homes, their columns and rafters exquisite and crumbling. Come this election, Kolkata, that bastion of Bengali exceptionalism, has a similarly convoluted choice to make.

Of going back to the Left that has a very little chance of winning the election, of sticking to the TMC that swept the city, is very much Bengali but not quite bhadralok, or the rising BJP that promises jobs and vikas but comes with its own unique trappings.

On an afternoon this week, the gates of Presidency College are firmly shut with three guards staring at their phones. On the wall are two posters, one denounces the “corporatization of Presidency College”, another proclaims “Lohia raj nahi chalega.” The pandemic means many such colleges are shut but on College Street, most of the book shops are doing brisk business. “Kon boi chai” (Which book do you want?) is the question you are asked. (Read Dipankar Ghose's report here)

10:20 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Amit Shah's Bengal rallies and roadshows for the day

Continuing his campaign trail for Bengal elections, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday is scheduled to conduct rallies in Pandaveswar at 11 am, Chakulia at 1:30 pm, Kaliaganj at 2:45 and a roadshow in Balurghat at 4pm.

08:57 (IST)19 Apr 2021
Mamata won’t campaign in Kolkata, rallies now just 30 minutes: TMC’s Derek O’Brien

With West Bengal reeling under the pressure of tackling the second wave of the novel coronavirus, TMC MP Derek O’Brien, late on Sunday, announced that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will not be campaigning in Kolkata anymore.

“On April 26, she will only hold a symbolic meeting on the last day of campaigning in the state capital. Besides this, the Chief Minister has also decided to hold rallies for not more than 30 minutes in other districts as well,” the senior TMC leader said.

08:27 (IST)19 Apr 2021
How Covid numbers spiked significantly in states that voted

With India grappling with the second wave of Covid-19, many state governments have clamped stringent guidelines in recent days restricting political and social gatherings.

According to the data by Union Health Ministry, the Covid curve in the country registered started showing an upward trend from March 15 onwards in most states, including all the poll-bound states. Notably, mass political rallies and roadshows were held in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry where voting for the Assembly polls concluded on April 6. In addition, four more phases of polls are yet to be conducted in West Bengal and, unsurprisingly, the political campaigning in the state is in full swing. (Read more here)

19:17 (IST)18 Apr 2021
PM Modi should resign owning responsibility for COVID-19 surge: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's resignation for "mishandling" of the COVID-19 second wave and alleged that the Prime Minister failed in planning to contain the rise in the number of infections.

Asserting that PM Modi did little to address the possible crisis in the supply of medical oxygen and vaccines in the five-six months when the virus had lost its sting before its resurgence this year, Banerjee accused Modi of exporting vaccines to other countries to boost his image in the international arena while there was a scarcity in his own nation.

“For the rise in COVID-19 cases, PM Modi has to resign. He is the man responsible for the present situation. He did not make any administrative planning for 2021. And look at the situation in Gujarat,” she said.

She added, “The BJP cannot tackle the COVID-19 spike even in Gujarat, and has brought the entire country, including West Bengal, to such a pass.” (PTI)

The Election Commission on Sunday imposed a 24-hour campaign ban on BJP leader Sayantan Basu and Sujata Mondal of the Trinamool Congress for their controversial remarks during the ongoing assembly polls in West Bengal. The bar on campaigning by the leaders will be in force from 7 pm on April 18 to 7 pm on April 19.

Addressing a large crowd in Purbasthali Uttar, West Bengal on Sunday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah targeted Bengal Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee by saying that she has started a new model of governance that includes “bombs, guns and explosives” and BJP wants to change this and bring governance of “development, trust, and industry.” Shah also said that only the BJP can work in preventing infiltration in the state and restore the “disturbed” law and order.

Amid a Covid-19 surge, the fifth phase of polling in West Bengal concluded on Saturday as the state registered over 78 per cent voter turnout. However, the day’s polling was marred by sporadic incidents of violence reported from Shantinagar area of Bidhannagar, Siliguri, and Bijpur in North 24 Parganas. At least 8 people have been injured in such incidents.

Five phases in Bengal assembly elections have been concluded with three more phases left. Polling for the 6th, 7th, and 8th phases will be held on April 22, April 26 and April 29 respectively. Results of all poll-bound states and UTs-- Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, West Bengal, Kerala and Assam-- will be declared on May 2.

In an interview to The Indian Express, Shah expressed confidence over BJP's chances in Bengal elections, saying that the party will grab over 200 seats and will surely form the government.

Modi, Mamata trade charges over tape, Sitalkuchi bodies

On the sidelines of the fifth phase of polling in West Bengal, marked by sporadic violence, the Trinamool and BJP on Saturday clashed over an audio tape purportedly featuring Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee talking about taking out rallies with bodies of those killed in firing by security forces during the previous phase.

Both Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue in their poll rallies, while the TMC and BJP filed complaints with the Election Commission on the matter.

On Friday, the BJP had released audio clip of a conversation purportedly between Banerjee and the TMC candidate in Sitalkuchi, where the firing happened on April 10, telling him to hold rallies with bodies of the four persons killed. The TMC claimed that the BJP had distorted the contents of the clip to spread lies.

TMC MLA dead, four contestants ailing as Bengal votes under Covid cloud

A SITTING TMC MLA succumbed to Covid-19 on Saturday, after the death of two West Bengal poll contestants earlier, as the state turned out in large numbers to cast votes for the fifth phase of polling.

While masks and sanitisers were at hand, social distancing was virtually non-existent at booths across the state where more than 78% cast their ballots by 5 pm for 45 constituencies. A CRPF jawan posted at a booth in Barasat constituency in North 24 Parganas said, “Voters are given hand sanitisers and masks if they are not wearing one. But how does one maintain social distancing? There are nine booths here and every booth has a huge line of voters. If we try and maintain social distancing, there will be a law and order problem.”

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
x