image_ Salil Bera

Attacking the Election Commission for curtailing the campaigning for the last phase of polls in West Bengal, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said it is an “unprecedented, unconstitutional and unethical gift” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the poll panel.

The BJP, meanwhile, reacted saying the EC move shows there is a classic case of breakdown of the Constitutional machinery in the state.

Banerjee, also the state chief minister, said she had never seen this type of EC which is “full of RSS people”.

“There is no such law and order problem in West Bengal that Article 324 can be clamped. It is unprecedented, unconstitutional and unethical. It is actually a gift to Modi and (BJP president) Amit Shah,” she claimed in a press conference.

A constitutional authority, the Election Commission of India, has effectively held West Bengal to be a “state in anarchy”, said BJP leader Arun Jaitley in series of tweets.

Repeatedly escalating violence, state supported vandals, a partisan police and home department are the illustrations the ECI has given, he noted.

“A free campaign is not possible and therefore the campaign has to be cut short. This is a classical case of breakdown of the Constitutional Machinery,” the minister said.

Questioning the Election Commission’s decision, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury asked if the poll body had set the time to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address two rallies in the state.

“If a ban is intended for 72 hours, why is it starting at 10 pm tomorrow? Is it to allow the two rallies of the PM before that?” Yechury tweeted shortly after the EC’s announcement.

Modi is scheduled to address rallies in Laxmikantapur and Dum Dum in West Bengal on Thursday afternoon.

“The decision by the EC to stop campaigning a day in advance is not understood. The first thing being expected by EC was action against the lumpen elements of BJP and TMC for violence yesterday. Why has no action been initiated?” the CPI(M) leader asked.

“We have made several complaints and written so many letters about violations and breakdown of law and order with impunity in Bengal, on which there has been no response,” Yechury alleged.

“On the fears of violation cited in the letter issued by the EC, where is the redressal mechanism if there is accumulation of arms or any other violation? So far there has been no action by the EC. This silence by them is widely considered as benefitting the ruling parties,” he tweeted.

In the first such action in India’s electoral history, the EC on Wednesday ordered campaigning in nine West Bengal constituencies to end at 10 pm on Thursday, a day before its scheduled deadline, in the wake of violence between BJP and Trinamool Congress workers in Kolkata on Tuesday.

The EC invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaigning for the last phase of the election on May 19.

The poll panel also ordered the removal of Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya and Additional Director General, CID, Rajiv Kumar from their postings in West Bengal.

Kolkata witnessed wide-spread violence during BJP president Amit Shah’s massive road show in Kolkata. A bust of 19th century Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised during the violence.

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