Kolkata: The Election Commission of India chose to curtail the election campaigning in Bengal one day ahead of its scheduled time for the 7th phase of Lok Sabha election on May 19. The move came after Kolkata witnessed violence during the mega road show of BJP National President Amit Shah.
During the press conference, the Commission officials announced that campaigning in the nine parliamentary constituencies of Bengal (Barasat, Bashirhat Dum Dum, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Kolkata North and South), which is going to vote on May 19, is to be suspended post 10 pm on May 16, instead of May 17. In doing so, the poll body for the first time invoked Article 324, which gives the gives special powers of “superintendence, direction and control” of elections, to the commission.
The officials further maintained that the poll body was anguished by the vandalism that the city witnessed, which eventually led to the desecration of Vidyasagar’s bust and was hopeful that the state administration would do the need to trace the culprits. During the press conference, the officials also announced that the IPS officer Rajeev Kumar, ADG, CID had been relieved of his duties and had been transferred to the Ministry of Home Affairs, where he is to report by 10 am on May 16. Atri Bhattacharya, IAS, Principal Secretary, Home & Hill Affair, Govt of West Bengal was relieved from his responsibilities.
Election Commission maintained that the decisions were taken on the basis of a report submitted by its appointed observers in Bengal. However, what looks interesting, is that commission’s choice of date to suspend the election campaigning in Bengal. Social media went frenzy after the Commission’s declaration, most of the Bengalis questioned as to why the Commission chose to end the campaigning on May 16, post 10 pm and not immediately? Many questioned if it was because on May 16 PM Modi’s campaigning in Bengal ends?
Watch the video, which suggests that the violence was planned during Amit Shah rally in Kolkata
CM Mamata Banerjee, too highlighted the same while addressing the press. An angry Didi said, “If there is a law and order issue in Bengal, then why has the campaigning not been immediately suspended. Why has the commission given time till 10 pm tomorrow? That is because PM Modi has two rallies to address in Bengal tomorrow.”
According to the itinerary shared by BJP media cell, PM Modi is scheduled to address to public meetings, one in Mathurapur and the other in Dum Dum Central Jail Ground.
Meanwhile, CPIM leader Sitaram Yechury, who spearheaded CPIM’s Bikhob Rally or Protest Rally to condemn the desecration of Vidyasagar’s bust, seemed visibly upset with Election Commission’s decision. He tweeted, “The decision by 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? #Bengal”.
Meanwhile, the sudden order of election campaign suspension in Bengal made all major political parties to chalk out plans for rallies and public meeting plans to make the best use of May 16.
Congress’ Sachin Pilot looks all set to hold a roadshow and address two public meetings on May 16 within the magic hours set by the Commission. CPIM too has planned for multiple meetings to campaign for Nandini Mukherjee, its candidate for South Kolkata on May 16.
Mamata Banerjee will also address two public meetings and two rallies in Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, 3A Bus stand in Joka and Sunkanto Setu respectively.