New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday criticised both the Election Commission of India and the ruling BJP at the Centre shortly after the poll panel announced the curtailment of campaigning in the nine Lok Sabha seats of the state ahead of the final phase of polling on May 19.
Reacting to the spate of poll-related violence during BJP chief Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday evening, the EC on Wednesday took unprecedented steps by invoking Article 324 of the Constitution and ban campaigning a day before it was supposed to end.
At a press conference in Kolkata, Banerjee slammed the EC for working at the BJP’s behest. “An emergency-like situation has arisen because of the EC decision... it is not the EC’s decision, it's a decision taken by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” she said. “The EC has kept the state forces in the dark and is conducting polls only with central forces.”
Banerjee wondered why the EC had not issued Shah a show-cause notice. “Amit Shah wanted to create riots, his people rioted,” she said, claiming that the state had not witnessed such riots in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid’s demolition in Ayodhya in 1992. “It was Amit Shah who should have been punished. Why did the EC not act against Shah, why was he not showcaused when he was responsible for all the trouble?”
Banerjee inquired whether the directives were due to the "threat" issued to the poll panel by Shah during the press meet.
Claiming that Modi is afraid of her as well as the people of Bengal, Banerjee accused the EC of prohibiting the campaign to suit the BJP’s poll schedule. “The EC has drafted the poll schedule according to the campaign schedule of Modi,” she said. “The EC is obstructing every party except Modi and the BJP... I believe everyone will respond.”
"Why was the campaign not stopped today? Because Modi has two meetings in Bengal tomorrow?" she asked.
Banerjee said the EC's decision was an insult to the people of state and asked them to vote accordingly. "The EC has rewarded the rioters for vandalising the bust of Vidyasagar," she said, referring to the statue of noted philosopher Ishwarchand Vidyasagar that was destroyed on Tuesday evening. "The people will respond."
"Modi is a shame for this country, BJP is a shame for this country, I will fight this battle boldly," she said. "There is a limit to getting insulted... I will give Modi a befitting reply."