EC can serve 10 notices, will continue to oppose vote division on religious lines: Mamata

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(Eds: Adds inputs, clubs stories) Domjur (WB), Apr 8 (PTI) Asserting that she would continue to raise her voice against any attempt made to divide voters on communal lines, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said the Election Commission may serve 10 showcause notices on her but that won't change her stance.

The poll panel had on Wednesday issued a notice to Banerjee for violating the model code of conduct, after she allegedly urged the Muslim community to vote en block for the TMC at a public meeting in Tarakeshwar.

The TMC supremo, who addressed four back-to-back rallies during the day, sought to know why no complaint has been registered against BJP star campaigner and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that he often makes references to Hindu and Muslim votebanks while delivering speeches.

'You (EC) can issue 10 show cause notices to me but my reply will be the same. I will always speak against any division of Hindu and Muslim votes,' the TMC supremo stated.

'Why is that no complaint has been filed against Narendra Modi, who talks about Hindu and Muslim (votebanks) every day? How many complaints have been lodged against those who had uttered the word 'mini Pakistan' during the Nandigram campaigns?' the CM contended.

Making light of Modi's 'Didi o Didi' barb during his rallies, Banerjee said 'Everyone has his or her own style of speaking, own rhetoric. Keep mocking me as many times as you want. But if you cross the lakshman rekha, it will only be a reflection of your personality.' Maintaining that the BJP has deployed men and machinery to hound political opponents, she claimed that national channels are also being forced to telecast news suiting the party's interests.

Describing TMC turncoat and BJP candidate from Domjur, Rajib Banerjee, as a 'traitor', the ruling camp supremo said, 'He has betrayed those who had voted for him in 2016. I am sorry I could not see his true colours back then,' she said.

The fesity leader, while addressing a public meeting in Sreerampur, Hooghly district, further claimed that central forces might visit villages to intimidate people, and asked voters to be on their guard.

She said that the paramilitary personnel are working at behest of Home Minister Amit Shah.

'I have great respect for the central paramilitary forces but they are working on the instructions of Amit Shah.

They are committing atrocities on villagers on the eve of the polling day, and also on the day of voting. Some are even harassing women. They are asking people to vote for the BJP,' she claimed.

Banerjee called upon the state police force and said, 'Your job is to ensure free and fair polls, please be stern with trouble-makers and keep your integrity intact. Do not bow your heads before Delhi.' Asking villagers to file complaint in case of any unwarranted use of force by the paramilitary personnel, the chief minister said, 'If the police station refuses to lodge an FIR, inform us.

Hitting out at the BJP for 'spreading misinformation about promulgation of section 144', the TMC supremo said, They (BJP) peddle lies to create panic. In reality, prohibitory orders are in force within 200 metres of a booth.

They do so to prevent voters from going to polling stations.' The CM asked polling agents to protest against the 'misdeeds of the BJP and the security forces'.

Accusing the BJP of having imposed 'article 356-like (President's rule) situation' in Bengal, with the EC taking arbitrary decisions, Banerjee said 'District magistrates and director generals of police have been removed. They have also asked a top retired police officer not to occupy any post after superannuation. However, the poll panel did not mind appointing retired officers to oversee elections here.' Earlier in the day, during her address in Balagarh, the CM asked voters not to turn West Bengal into 'another Gujarat' by voting for the saffron party.

'If you wish to protect the oldest Durga puja in Guptipara (part of the Balagarh seat), and if you wish to protect our festivals, please ensure BJP's defeat,' she said.

Banerjee reaffirmed that her dispensation is committed to protecting the sanctity of Rathyatra in Mahesh, Christmas fervour at Bandel Church, Santhal festivals in Jangalmahal.

The TMC boss, in a bid to woo the electorate in Behala, also stated that the Joka-B B D Bagh metro line was conceived during her stint as railway minister.

Continuing her tirade against the BJP government at the Centre, she said plans were made to 'impose COVID-19 lockdown in the state during the voting phase to stop people from exercising their franchise, but the idea could not be implemented as I had strongly opposed it.' PTI SUS RMS RMS