West Bengal: Mamata, Modi trade barbs as EC campaigning ban comes in forcehttps://indianexpress.com/elections/mamata-banerjee-narendra-modi-west-bengal-lok-sabha-elections-campaigning-ends-5731695/

West Bengal: Mamata, Modi trade barbs as EC campaigning ban comes in force

Escalating the attack, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to trade barbs at each other over the destruction of the Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata during clashes between the TMC and BJP on Wednesday.

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West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee greets supporters during an election rally in Kolkata on the last day of campaigning ahead of the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha polls on Thursday. (PTI)

The high-voltage campaigning for the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha polls concluded in West Bengal on Thursday, 20 hours in advance, after the Election Commission cut short the electioneering and invoked the Article 324 of the Constitution to ensure law and order in the state. Nine Lok Sabha constituencies are slated to go to the polls on Sunday.

Here is a wrap of all that has happened in the state today:

Modi says will build another Vidyasagar statue, Mamata refuses offer

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to trade barbs at each other over the destruction of the Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata during violence that broke out during Amit Sha’s roadshow on Tuesday. Addressing a rally in Mandirbazar, Mamata declined Modi’s offer to replace the bust and said, “Modi has promised to rebuild the Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata. Why should we take their (BJP’s) money, Bengal has enough resources.”

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally for the last phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Kolkata, on Thursday. (PTI)

Didi threatening to put me in jail: PM Modi

The prime minister, on the other hand, claimed that Banerjee was “frustrated over her imminent defeat” and had threatened to put him behind bars after the general elections. Addressing a rally in Mathurapur in the evening, Modi claimed that the West Bengal Police, in connivance with the state government, was trying to wipe out evidence of statue desecration in Kolkata.

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“Didi has lost her cool in the face of imminent defeat. She has become so frustrated that she is threatening me that she will put me behind bars,” he said.

Mamata finds support in Opposition

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A CPI-(M) supporter holds a placard during a protest march after a statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, an academic, was damaged during Tuesday’s clashes between BJP and TMC. (Reuters)

Several Opposition leaders extended their support to the Trinamool supremo and also accused the poll watchdog of being “biased”. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati charged that Mamata was being targeted as part of a conspiracy to divert attention from the failures of the Modi government.

Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also came out in support of his Bengal counterpart and wondered why the poll panel ordered campaign be stopped in Bengal at 10 pm today after Modi’s rallies in the state. “We strongly condemn the attitude of the Election Commission. Why was the campaign ordered to be stopped after Modiji’s rallies. We have never seen this biased EC in the history of the country,” he said.

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Mamata Banerjee speaks at an election rally at Anchana in Mathurapur, about 60 kilometers south of Kolkata, on Thursday. (AP)

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the saffron party’s attempt to “polarise” the electorate in the state will come to nothing as the TMC will sweep the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

“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,” Abdullah said in a tweet.

EC lost its independence: Congress

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Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala addresses a press conference in New Delhi over the vandalization of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue in Kolkata. (PTI)

The Congress, meanwhile, accused the election panel of losing its credibility and independence and said the time has come to review the process of the poll panel’s appointment.

Asking whether the model code of conduct had become the “Modi code of misconduct”, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Election Commission order curtailing campaigning in West Bengal by 20 hours is a “dark spot” on India’s democracy and institutions like the poll panel.

“… Wasn’t EC’s order aimed at solely giving a free pass to the two public rallies of Narendra Modi being organised today afternoon and evening at Mathurapur and Dum Dum? Can there be a more glaring instance EC’s being muzzled into submission by the ruling party?” he asked.

Kolkata Police forms SIT to prove vandalism

The Kolkata Police today formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the vandalism at Vidyasagar College during Amit Shah’s roadshow in the city.

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BJP supporters who could not enter the venue of an election rally addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, watch from a distance in Mathurapur, south of Kolkata on Thursday. (AP)

BJP urges EC to ensure free and fair polls in West Bengal

Alleging that there is “complete constitutional breakdown of governance” in the state, the saffron party urged the poll panel to take a number of measures, including action against criminals and history-sheeters, to ensure free and fair polls in Bengal.

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“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 India’s democratic traditions and its constitution,” the BJP said in a memorandum to the EC.

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