The Election Commission (EC) on Monday barred West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee from the election campaign for 24 hours. The ban will start from 8:00 PM on April 12 to 8:00 PM on April 13.
Reacting to the EC’s action Mamata announced that she would sit on dharna in Kolkata in protest against this undemocratic step.
The Trinamool Congress MP, Derek O’Brien termed it as ‘Kala Diwas’ (Black Day). He tweeted: “EC stands for Extremely Compromised. April 12 BLACK DAY in our democracy.”
Mamata, according to the EC order, has been barred from campaigning for violating the Model Code of Conduct. In a speech, she had appealed to the Muslim community to vote unitedly for the Trinamool Congress.
Earlier, late on April 10 the Election Commission had banned the entry of all politicians in Cooch Behar district where four people belonging to Muslim community were killed in firing by CISF personnel on the occasion of fourth phase of polling on that day. As on the following day, Mamata was about to go to Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency, where the incident took place, the EC order directly affected her plan.
However, Mamata talked to family members of the victims through video-conferencing and assured them of full help. She directly accused Union home minister Amit Shah for the senseless killing. Mamata promised the family members that she would visit Sitalkuchi after the 72-hour ban period ends.
The EC also reduced the campaigning time for the fifth phase and the electioneering would now stop 72 hours before the start of the polling instead of normal 48 hours.
The fifth phase of polling will take place on April 17. Mamata is each day addressing three to four election rallies and EC’s order would prevent her from doing so.