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Published On: Wed, May 15th, 2019

Election Commission Bans campaigning in West Bengal

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Election-Commission-768x500NEW DELHI/ KOLKATA: In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission of India on May 15 put a blanket ban on political parties from campaigning activities in the nine parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal in view of the “growing incidents of disruption and violence”, beginning 10 p.m. on May 16.a day before its scheduled deadline.
Polls in these constituencies are scheduled to be held during the last phase on May 19 and the 48-hour silence period was to kick in on May 17 evening. In the wake of violence between BJP and TMC workers in Kolkata, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday ordered campaigning in nine parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal to end at 10 PM on Thursday (May 16),
The nine parliamentary constituencies are Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, South and North Kolkata.The campaign for the last round of voting in Bengal has been cut short by the Election Commission in an unprecedented decision, after violence at BJP president Amit Shah’s roadshow on Tuesday evening.
While the BJP hailed the Commission’s decision as a validation of their complaint that Bengal has descended into anarchy, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the Commission’s decision is “undemocratic” and it has “insulted the people of Bengal”.

For the first time, the powerful election body has used Article 324 of the Constitution — which gives it the powers of “superintendence, direction and control of elections” — for restricting election campaigns.The ECI has invoked Article 324 of the constitution to curtail the campaigning for the last phase of the election on May 19. The ECI also ordered the removal of Principal Secretary (Home) and Additional Director General, CID from their postings in West Bengal.
“The commission is deeply anguished at the vandalism done to the statue of Vidyasagar. It is hoped that the vandals are traced by the state administration,” Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar said.
Yesterday, BJP and TMC supporters clashed on the streets of Kolkata during a massive roadshow of BJP chief Amit Shah who had to cut short the event mid-way due to the violence. The violence apparently began after suspected TMC supporters hurled stones at the BJP convoy from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College.

Shah, at a press conference in New Delhi, alleged that Mamata Banerjee’s TMC was involved in vandalising Vidyasagar’s bust and unleashing violence during his roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday as part of a “conspiracy” to blame the BJP.
Meanwhile, On its part, the TMC released videos to claim that “BJP goons” damaged the statue and “hurt Bengali pride”. The Mamata Banerjee-led party alleged the videos not only establish what the BJP did, but proved that Shah is a “liar” and a “dhokebaaz” (betrayer).
Calling the decision “unethical, unconstitutional, undemocratic and biased”, Mamata Banerjee said, “Tomorrow, Modi has two meetings in Bengal. When he finishes, the campaigning also ends… Instead of punishing Amit Shah, the Election Commission has given a gift to the BJP”.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted: “A constitutional authority, the Election Commission of India, has effectively held Bengal to be a state in Anarchy. Repeatedly escalating violence, state supported Vandals, a partisan police and home department are the illustrations the ECI has given.”
A free campaign is not possible and therefore the campaign has to be cut short. This is a classical case of breakdown of the Constitutional Machinery.
Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien, in turn, called the BJP chief “Dhokabaaz” and “pukeworthy”. He also complained to the Election Commission, submitted what he called video proof that the BJP was behind the vandalism.
In a separate order, the Commission relieved the State Additional Director-General of Police (CID) Rajeev Kumar from his post with immediate effect and directed him to report to the Union Home Ministry at 10 a.m. on May 16.
The EC also removed State Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya form his post for interfering in the process of conducting elections. The Chief Secretary was given additional charge and compliance report sought by 10 p.m. on May 15.
(With Agency Inputs ).

 

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