Mamata Banerjee was banned from campaigning in Bengal for 24 hours this evening over speeches that the Election Commission said violated the poll code.
The chief minister was accused of breaking the law with her comments on Muslim votes and for allegedly urging voters to revolt against central security forces.
Mamata Banerjee announced a sit-in protest against the ban. “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 noon,” she tweeted. The ban till 8 p.m. on Tuesday~ outgoing Election Commissioner Sunil Arora’s final order~ comes halfway 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 Modi.
The Bengal chief minister, 66, had been served two notices last week by the Election Commission, which said her replies to them betrayed “selective amnesia”.
She was asked to explain her speeches on 28 March and 7 April, allegedly accusing Central forces of intimidating voters and urging women to hit back or surround the security personnel. “As and when whatever information we get regarding the Sitalkuchi incident, we will share with the media”, said Sanjay Basu, additional CEO.
Meanwhile, Biman Basu, who led a delegation of Sanjukta Morcha while speaking to newspersons junked EC’s argument of an alleged mob attack trying to snatch the arms of the CISF personnel led to the opening of fire was highly “hypothetical” in the absence of documentation.
Shortly after the EC’s decision, her party claimed that the poll panel was behaving like a “wing of the BJP” and its decision smacks of authoritarianism.
~With inputs from Agencies~