Mounting a scathing attack on the Election Commission after it ordered an early end to campaigning for the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, TMC leader and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said the poll panel has become a BJP “mouthpiece and spokesperson” working on the “instructions of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah”.
Addressing a press conference late at night, Banerjee described the Commission’s decision to invoke Article 324 of the Constitution as “unprecedented, unconventional, unfair, unethical and politically biased”.
She said she has “never disrespected any Constitutional body but there is a limit to the humiliation and insult… If the EC sends me a show cause notice, then I am ready to face 50 such notices, because I will not tolerate this insult to my state and my people… EC is obstructing everybody except Modi and Shah. We raised so many complaints with the EC but never got any constructive reply”.
She also slammed the poll panel for ordering the removal of ADG (CID) Rajeev Kumar and Principal Secretary (Home and Hill Affairs) Atri Bhattacharya. “What crime has the Home Secretary committed by sending a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer? Law and order is a state subject. Why this vindictive attitude? Rajeev Kumar was not even involved in any electoral process,” she said.
Referring to the desecration of a bust of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in the street battles during Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata a day earlier, Banerjee said the Commission, by ordering an early end to campaigning in the state, has “rewarded Shah for destroying the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar”.
“There is no law and order problem in West Bengal that Article 324 has to be clamped… This (curtailment of campaigning) has not been done on the instructions of the EC but on the instructions of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Shah held a press conference today where he threatened the EC to take action against us. Is it a result of that? The EC is doing what the BJP is telling it to do,” she said.
“Why was Amit Shah not been given a show cause for creating trouble here? We held so many rallies here and none of them ended in violence. Those who did wrong are being spared and only Bengal is being targeted. Just because a sentiment has erupted among the people of Bengal over the desecration of Vidyasagar’s bust, such a decision has been taken to divert attention.”
“The campaigning schedule has been curtailed in a way so that the PM is able to hold two rallies in Bengal tomorrow. Can EC help Modi win election this way?… People of Bengal are very angry. They will take revenge through the ballot box,” she said.
The Prime Minister, she said, is fighting a losing battle and that’s why he is targeting Bengal: “You Modi cannot fight with me. You are losing the battle. You have shown disrespect to Rajiv Gandhi, Soniaji, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Mayawatiji and even Arvind (Kejriwal). Yesterday, Rs 15-20 crore was spent to organise Shah’s roadshow. Why don’t you (EC) show cause the PM and Shah for exceeding election expenditure?”
“We know a lot of things about Special Police Observer and retired IPS officer Vivek Dubey. A constable working under him had committed suicide but the case was hushed up. Do not think that we don’t know anything. Just like you have information about us, we too have information about you,” Banerjee said. Announcing protests Thursday against the EC decision, she said: “I am expecting support from every party. Even from NDA allies.”