Kolkata: Lashing out at the Election Commission over its decision to bar her from campaigning for 24 hours, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she would stage a dharna in the city on Tuesday to protest against the poll panel’s “unconstitutional decision”.
Taking to Twitter, she wrote, “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 12 noon.”
The poll panel’s order came after Banerjee’s remarks against central forces and a statement which had alleged religious overtones.
“Commission hereby condemns such statements potent with serious law and order problems across the state (s) and sternly warns Mamata Banerjee and advises her to desist from using such statements while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force,” the commission said in its order.
Assembly polls in West Bengal began on March 27, and the remaining four of the eight phases of elections will be held between April 17 and April 29.
Members of the Trinammol Congress joined Banerjee in slamming the poll panel for its decision on her.
Coming down heavily on the EC, TMC national vice-president Yashwant Sinha said every institution of democracy has been compromised.
“We always had a doubt about the impartiality of the EC.
But, today it has shed whatever pretence it had. Now it is clear that EC is acting at the behest of Modi/Shah and under their direct order.
“Every institution of democracy is compromised today.
What hope do we have?” he tweeted.
Echoing him, other senior leaders of the party claimed that the poll panel was behaving like a “wing of the BJP” and its decision smacks of authoritarianism.
Derek O’Brien, the ruling party’s Rajya Sabha MP, said it was a black day for India’s democracy.
“EC stands for Extremely Compromised. April 12 BLACK DAY in our democracy,” O’Brien tweeted.
“Always knew we were winning Bengal,” he added.
Another party leader, Kunal Ghosh, said the decision to ban Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours is “atrocious and smacks of authoritarianism”.
“The EC is behaving like a wing of the BJP. The ban is atrocious and smacks of authoritarianism. The sole aim of the EC is to stop Banerjee from campaigning as the BJP has already sensed defeat. This shameful,” he stated.
The BJP, however, welcomed the decision and accused TMC of vitiating the poll discourse.
“The EC did the right thing. The way TMC leaders are instigating the people against the EC and the central forces is unacceptable,” BJP leader Sourav Sikdar said.