In the wake of the recent events of violence across West Bengal, the Election Commission on Wednesday, 15 May, invoked Article 324 to cut short poll campaigning in the state by a day. Campaigning across the nine remaining constituencies will halt at 10 pm on Thursday.
Responding to this move by the EC, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged the poll panel is working under the BJP’s instructions.
Mamata, during an interaction with the media on Wednesday, 15 May, accused the EC of favouring the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is holding a rally in West Bengal on 16 May.
“They are allowing campaigning on Thursday as Modi is supposed to hold two meetings tomorrow... No law and order problem in West Bengal. Clamping Article 324 is unprecedented, unconstitutional, unethical,” she said.
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Article 324 grants wide plenary powers to the EC for “superintendence, direction and control” of the conduct of elections. This allows the EC to pass any orders required to ensure free and fair elections, which technically covers law and order issues as well.
The campaigning would have originally ended at 5 pm on 17 May – as it would do in the rest of the country, which will see the final phase of voting on 19 May.
‘Amit Shah Responsible for Violence in Kolkata’
Speaking on the vandalism of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's statue in a college, followed by clash between the BJP and TMC workers across Kolkata, Mamata accused BJP chief Amit Shah of orchestrating the attack and bringing in "goons."
"“Yesterday’s [14 May] violence was because of Amit Shah. Why has the EC not issued a show-cause notice to him or sacked him.”" - CM Mamata Banerjee
"Goons were brought from outside, they created violence dressed in saffron, the violence was similar to when Babri Masjid was demolished," she added.
Mamata allegedly referred to Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Bagga as ‘goon’, who had claimed that he was arrested in Kolkata hours after the Amit Shah's Tuesday roadshow.
Bagga's surprise visit to Kolkata was questioned by TMC leader Derek O'Brien, who was quoted by NDTV as saying, "Anybody can come and do a procession, but what were the outsiders doing? Who is this fellow Tajinder Bagga? Who is he? He was arrested. Is he not the same guy who slapped lawyer Prashant Bhushan in Delhi? You have taken in your outsider goons."
Bagga claimed that the West Bengal police dragged him away in the early hours of Wednesday, though he had nothing to do with the violence.
Mamata during her press conference further slammed Shah and PM Modi for not condemning the destruction of Vidyasagar’s bust.
“Amit Shah created violence through his meeting and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar statue was vandalized. But Modi did not feel sorry for that today. People of Bengal have taken this seriously, action should be taken against Amit Shah.
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