New Delhi: Leaders from Opposition parties came down heavily on the Election Commission’s order curtailing campaigning in West Bengal from 10 pm on Thursday in the wake of violence between BJP and TMC workers during Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata a day earlier.
The ban’s timing is under fire because it allows Prime Minister Modi to address two rallies in Laxmikantapur and Dum Dum in the state scheduled in the afternoon, alleged several leaders.
BJP's West Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh, however, defended the decision saying it was taken "following lack of faith in state administration".
"It is unfortunate that the candidates did not get their stipulated time, but I think commission took the decision following lack of faith in the state administration," he said.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel raised questions over the EC order, wondering if the poll panel is "waiting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to complete his public meetings" there.
"If situation in Bengal is so severe that campaigning must be stopped, why is EC waiting until tomorrow? Is it because PM has scheduled rallies tomorrow?" Ahmed Patel tweeted reacting to the development.
If situation in Bengal is so severe that campaigning must be stopped, why is EC waiting until tomorrow? Is it because PM has scheduled rallies tomorrow?— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) May 15, 2019
"Isn't it unprecedented that EC claims it's an unprecedented situation in West Bengal but yet is waiting for PM to complete his public meetings?" he said in another tweet.
BJP and TMC supporters Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by the police.
The EC’s campaign ban order is the first such action in the history of the country's electoral politics.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav slammed the decision, saying "the decision to call off campaigning in Bengal is against all norms of democratic fair play".
The EC's decision to call off campaigning in Bengal is against all norms of democratic fair play. I fully support @MamataOfficial ji in her fight to stop the undemocratic march of the two and a half men who have used and abused every institution of our country for their own gain.— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) May 15, 2019
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also took to Twitter to criticise the poll body. "If a ban is intended for 72 hours, why is it starting at 10 pm tomorrow? Is it to allow the two rallies of the PM before that?" Yechury tweeted shortly after the EC's announcement.
"The decision by the EC to stop campaigning a day in advance is not understood. The first thing being expected by EC was action against the lumpen elements of BJP and TMC for violence yesterday. Why has no action been initiated?" he asked.
Yetchury also alleged that there has been no response to the many complaints and letters written about violations and breakdown of law and order with impunity in Bengal.
The poll body invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaigning in West Bengal for the last phase of the election on May 19.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi also expressed discontent over the decision claiming that such a decision should be taken with regard to eastern Uttar Pradesh also, in line with principles of "natural justice."
"@ECISVEEP why only West Bengal, Natural Justice & Fair Play demands it should have been for entire 7th Phase why only West Bengal, why not for Eastern UP," he tweeted.
@ECISVEEP why only West Bengal ,Natural Justice & Fair Play demands it should have been for entire 7th Phase why only West Bengal ,why not for Eastern UP ? https://t.co/xpE2L2vYpI— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) May 15, 2019
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also came out in support of his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee saying the people of the state will give a befitting reply to the "perpetrators of violence and hooliganism".
"Time to wake up, India. This very cult and ideology killed Mahatma and is now behind the desecration of the bust of one of the greatest reformers Shri Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar ji. People of Bengal will give a befitting reply to Modi-Shah led perpetrators of violence and hooliganism (sic)," Kejriwal said.
Time to wake up, India. This very cult n ideology killed Mahatma and is now behind desecration of the bust of one of the greatest reformers Shri Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar ji. People of Bengal will give befitting reply to Modi-Shah led perpetrators of violence and hooliganism— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) May 15, 2019
The BJP and the TMC have accused each other of inciting the violence which broke out during BJP president Amit Shah's massive road show.
During the violence, a bust of Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised.
(With inputs from PTI)