The Election Commission of India has imposed a 24-hour ban on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for violation of provisions of Model Code of Conduct and sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The poll panel had earlier issued notices to Banerjee for violating the model code of conduct. Mamata had allegedly urged the Muslim community to vote for the TMC at a public meeting in Tarakeshwar. At another rally, she had accused central forces of intimidating voters and asked the crowd to gherao central security forces.
“I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands don’t divide the minority votes after listening to the devil (shaitaan) person who had taken money from the BJP,” Mamata had said addressing a poll rally in Hooghly on April 3. “Who gave so much power to them that the central police are threatening the women without allowing them to cast their votes? I saw the same thing in 2019, I saw the same thing in 2016,” she had said while addressing a rally on March 28.
“The commission condemns such statements portent with serious law and order problems across the state(s) and sternly warns Mamata Banerjee and advises her to desis from using such statements while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force. The Commission also imposes a ban of 24 hours on Mamata Banerjee campaigning in any manner from 8 PM of April 12 till 8 PM of April 13,” the ECI order said.
Responding to the ECI’s notice over her statement in which she appealed to Muslim voters to not let their vote split, Banerjee stated that she did not seek to influence the voters to cast their vote for her on religious segmentary lines; rather “I categorically spoke in favour of religious harmony in line with the spirit of Model Code of Conduct and the Constitution of India”.
Responding to the poll body’s second notice involving the central forces, Mamata said that she had only called upon the voters, specifically voters who are women, to protest (democratically by gherao) if and when somebody (including CAPF) created any obstruction in their right to vote.
The BJP had even approached the Election Commission seeking action against the TMC chief alleging that she has violated Representation of the People Act by asking Muslims to come together and vote for her party TMC in the state assembly polls. A BJP leaders’ delegation, including Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, party’s national secretary Sunil Deodhar, its leader GVL Narasimha Rao, had met top officials of the poll panel and submitted a memorandum demanding action against Mamata Banerjee and her party.