Ensure Final Phase of Polling Is Carried Out Peacefully, Without Interference: Mamata to EC
New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday asked the Election Commission to ensure fair and peaceful polling in the remaining nine Lok Sabha constituencies of the state that go to polls on May 19.
The state witnessed incidents of violence in the previous six phases, with three poll-related deaths reported so far. In an unprecedented development, the EC had deployed 770 companies of central forces to oversee the sixth phase, the largest such deployment until now.
Polling will be held on Sunday in the remaining nine constituencies of south Bengal where an estimated 1,49,63,064 voters will decide the fate of 111 candidates. Kolkata North and South, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Jaynagar (SC) and Mathurapur (SC) seats will vote.
In a letter to the EC, Banerjee wrote that a number of “illegal, unconstitutional and biased decisions” have been seen during the election process due to the “undue influence of the Central government and the ruling party at the Centre”.
“As a result, not only the state government administration and its officers but also the common people of the state have been harassed and attacked in various manners,” she wrote.
In the latest round of violence, arson and stone-pelting took place during BJP chief Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata. Afterwards, suspected members of the ABVP allegedly destroyed a bust of noted reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar at Vidyasagar College. Both BJP and the TMC accused each other of vandalism.
After the violence, the EC had curtailed campaigning in the state by a day. This move was criticised by the ruling TMC as well as other Opposition leaders who claimed it benefited the PM.
“…all evidences show that the roadshow of the BJP president in Kolkata on May 14 was permitted by way of withdrawing Section 144 in the area by the new commissioner of police appointed by the Election Commission,” she said. “The roadshow was itself a deliberate, intentional and a criminal conspiracy to vandalise the culture and heritage of Kolkata and West Bengal and also to defame the West Bengal government and its people.”
Banerjee said the EC’s appointment of two retired government officials as special observers was not according to law. “These two special observers had shown partisan attitude and always complied with the instructions given by the central government and the ruling party at the Centre time and again,” she wrote. “All these issues were brought to the notice of the Election Commission but no justice has been done.”
Banerjee further urged the EC to ensure that polling in the final phase is completed “peacefully, impartially and without any undue interference of the central government and without any intervention by the ruling party at the Centre”.