Questioning the eight-phase assembly elections in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said she suspects the dates were announced as per the suggestions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for better management of the BJP’s poll campaign.
Addressing a press conference at her residence in Kalighat, Banerjee said the Election Commission should not look at the state “through the eyes of the saffron camp” — a reference to the BJP.
“With all due respect to the Election Commission, I want to say that questions are being raised on why elections will be held in so many phases in Bengal while other states will be voting in one phase. If EC doesn’t provide justice to the people, where will the people go,” she said, adding that despite “all these tricks”, she will win the elections.
”I have information from my sources that the poll dates are similar to the ones BJP wanted. Have the dates been announced as per the suggestions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah? The PM and the home minister cannot misuse their power for the state elections,” she added.
Banerjee said she is the daughter of the state and knows Bengal better than the BJP, exuding confidence about her party Trinamool Congress winning the elections.
The first phase of polling in West Bengal will be on March 27, the second phase on April 1, the third phase on April 6 and the fourth on April 10. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth phases will be held on April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29, respectively.
The EC will appoint two special observers for Bengal and a third can also be sent if required, said Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora in response to queries on whether enough arrangements are in place for the polls in the state where many have been raising questions about political violence.
Responding to questions on the increased number of phases in Bengal, Arora said when the EC assesses the law and order situation, it is based on several factors. “After all the elections to West Bengal (assembly) in 2016 was in seven phases. The Lok Sabha was in seven phases. So, seven to eight (phases) is not such a big deal because we also have to see the movement of forces, we also have to see the current charges and counter-charges (by political parties),” he said.
“We have to kind of find a way out. That is why we are sending two expenditure observers to Tamil Nadu and two police observers to West Bengal,” he explained.