Rallying behind Trinamool Congress and its chief Mamata Banerjee, the Congress and other opposition parties on Thursday slammed the Election Commission for cutting short the campaign time for the nine West Bengal seats citing violence. Arguing that the poll panel has lost its independence, the Congress went to the extent of asking whether the EC now takes orders from the BJP headquarters and said the time has come to review the process of appointments of the EC.
A multi-party delegation of opposition parties led by the Congress went to the EC in the evening challenging its Wednesday night’s decision.
“The EC has without any quasi judicial process or hearing and without determining the guilt has extended the campaign silence period. The EC has not decided who had indulged in violence,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi. He was flanked by AAP’s Sanjay Singh and TDP’s C M Ramesh.
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“And the result is that those who have indulged in violence, and the non-NDA, non-BJP parties in Bengal believe the BJP is responsible for the violence and the desecration of Vidyasagar statue – are benefiting. The result of this decision is strange. The person who is responsible benefits from its wrong actions and the person who is innocent — the non-BJP parties — have to suffer as their campaign period has been cut down by 24 hours… if the BJP has indulged in violence why should the other parties being penalised,” Singhvi said.
Later on Thursday, Banerjee, in a tweet, thanked the opposition parties and their leaders for “expressing solidarity and support to us and the people of Bengal”.
Several other opposition leaders have also came out in support of the West Bengal chief minister. “The EC’s decision to call off campaigning in Bengal is against all norms of democratic fair play. I fully support Mamataji in her fight to stop the undemocratic march of the two and a half men who have used and abused every institution of our country for their own gain,” SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said.
Arguing that it was disturbing to see “prompt action” by the EC on the complaint by the BJP while “conveniently ignoring” the complaints of Trinamool Congress, TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said, “It is high time the ECI acts on the complaints made by opposition parties to restore its credibility and fulfill its constitutional mandate of conducting free and fair elections. The institutional integrity of the ECI and integrity of the democratic process of elections is at stake.”
“Giving clean chits to Narendra Modi, taking unjustified prompt action after false complaints by BJP, willful inaction on genuine complaints by opposition parties; clearly raises doubts about the neutrality, impartiality, and fairness of the Election Commission of India,” he said.
DMK chief M K Stalin tweeted, “The EC has one set of rules for the Opposition and another for the ruling party. Highly condemnable. The BJP follows a typical pattern. Vandalises Periyar statue in Tamil Nadu and Iswara Chandra Vidyasagar in West Bengal.”
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah expressed confidence that Banerjee and the TMC would do well in the polls. “The BJP can team up with the EC in West Bengal, they can have a tailor made campaign designed to fragment & polarise the electorate, they can have all their model code violations overlooked. None of it will matter because on the 23rd @MamataOfficial didi will sweep West Bengal,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, BSP supremo Mayawati alleged that Banerjee is being targeted as part of a conspiracy to divert attention from failures of the Modi government. She said that it was clear that under the present Chief Election Commissioner, the Lok Sabha polls are not being held in a totally free and fair manner.
BJP urges EC to take action against criminals for free and fair polls in Bengal
The BJP on Thursday urged the Election Commission to take action against criminals and history-sheeters to ensure free and fair polls in West Bengal. A party delegation, which included Union ministers Prakash Javadekar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Vijay Goel, met the Election Commission and submitted a memorandum over the same.
“From the reading of the (EC) order, it can be safely surmised that there is complete constitutional breakdown of governance, and law and order in the state… The denigration of the country’s highest constitutional bodies like the EC and the Prime Minister’s Office by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee is itself the biggest danger to the India’s democratic traditions and its constitution,” the BJP said in the memorandum.
Besides action against criminals, the party also demanded that the EC-appointed observers take charge of non-statutory electoral functions like permissions, deployment of forces and maintaining law and order. (ENS)