Election Commission Bans Mamata Banerjee From Campaigning For 24 Hours

The ban imposed on the sitting Chief Minister till 8 PM today was the last order by the outgoing Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

Kolkata| The Election Commission last evening banned West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning in Bengal for 24 hours over her speeches that the poll body said violated the Model Code Of Conduct (MCC). The Trinamool supremo was accused of breaking the law with her comments on Muslim votes, as well as for allegedly urging voters to revolt against central security forces.

After the ban was announced, Mamata Banerjee declared a sit-in protest against the EC’s decision.

“To protest against the undemocratic and unconstitutional decision of the Election Commission of India, I will sit on dharna tomorrow at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata from 12 noon,” Ms Banerjee tweeted.

The ban imposed on the sitting Chief Minister till 8 PM today was the last order by the outgoing Election Commissioner Sunil Arora. The decision came half-way through the Bengal election, with four more rounds of voting left in an intense campaign pitting Mamata Banerjee against a galaxy of BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Election Commission, last week, had served two notices to Mamata Banerjee. The poll body said that Ms Banerjee’s replies to them betrayed “selective amnesia”.

The Trinamool chief was asked to explain her speeches on March 28 and April 7, allegedly accusing central forces of intimidating voters and urging women to hit back or surround the security personnel.

“Who gave so much power to them that the central police are threatening the women without allowing them to cast their votes? I saw the same thing in 2019, I saw the same thing in 2016,” Ms Banerjee had said during March rally.

“I know under whose instruction they beat up people and how they beat up. It is your duty to save the families of the people. If any of our mothers and sisters suffer a single strike with the stick, attack them with ladles, spuds and knife. I am telling you. It is the right of women. And if any of our mothers and sisters are denied entry in the voting compartment all of you come out and revolt,” she allegedly said.

The Election Commission said that Ms Banerjee, in Cooch Behar, made “highly objectionable remarks” on the Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF).

“If the CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) create disturbances, I tell you ladies, a group of you go and restrain (gherao) them while another group will go to cast their votes. Don’t waste your vote. If you engage yourself only in restraining them they will be happy that you did not cast your vote. This is their plan. This is the plan of the BJP. And your plan will be that you will not be scared if they try to intimidate you coming to your village on the one hand, and on the other you just talk to them,” the Chief Minister said.

Calling the comments by Mamata Banerjee “false, provocative and intemperate statements”, the EC said that they “vilified” central forces and had caused “extreme demoralisation” in their ranks.

Ms Banerjee, in another notice, was accused of “openly demanding votes on communal grounds”.

While campaigning in Hooghly district on April 3, Mamata Banerjee said: “I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands… don’t divide the minority votes after listening to the devil… who had taken money from the BJP… He passes many communal statements and initiates clashes between Hindus and Muslims… comrades of the CPM and BIP is roaming around with money given by BJP to divide the minority votes.”

After the election body’s decision, Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress blasted the Election Commission, dubbing it “Extremely Compromised”.



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