Elections 2021

Election Commission curtails campaigning in West Bengal

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 15, 2019

The clash between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal and the BJP at the Centre reached ominous proportions on Thursday when the Finance Minister referred to the violence as a “classical case of the breakdown of the Constitutional machinery” and the Election Commission curtailing the campaigning for the last day of the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls.

The EC order, citing Article 324 of the Constitution — which gives it the powers of “superintendence, direction and the control of elections” — restricted election campaigns.

So far, it has been used for the cancellation or postponement of election or penalising individual candidates. Campaigning for the nine seats in Bengal, which will vote on May 19, will end on Thursday night at 10 pm, a day early. It would have ended at 5 pm on Friday.

“A constitutional authority, the Election Commission of India, has effectively held Bengal to be a State in Anarchy. Repeatedly escalating violence, state supported Vandals, a partisan police and home department are the illustrations the ECI has given,” the Finance Minister said. During the day, a BJP delegation comprising senior members of the Union Cabinet — Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, HRD Minister Prakash Javdekar and others — met the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, and asked him to call for a report from the Bengal government.

A memorandum submitted to the Vice-President said the attack on the BJP President Amit Shah at the roadshow in Kolkata is a matter of breach of privilege of the Upper House.

The decision came as election campaign heated up in West Bengal and a feud erupted between State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the the BJP over some political workers vandalising Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue.

EC expresses anguish

In its order, the EC said it was “deeply anguished at the vandalism done to the statue” of an icon who, “besides his many other achievements as a philosopher, academic educator, writer and philanthropist, worked all his life for the cause of widow remarriage, which was un-thought and unheard of in the ultraconservative society in those days.”


Published on May 15, 2019

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