Lok Sabha elections 2019: Modi defends EC as BJP targets electoral gains in North Bengal

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on April 07, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the rally in Cooch Behra, West Bengal. Photo: PTI   -  PTI

Modi further criticised the Banerjee-led government in West Bengal for alleged involvement of the TMC in Ponzi schemes like the Saradha and Rose Valley scams


Prime Minister, Narendra Modi claimed vilifying institutions like the Election Commission of India (ECI) reflected insecurity of political parties. This comes after Modi’s comments against the West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Earlier, he had claimed that Mamata Banerjee aka Didi “was losing political ground” in the state.

The Prime Minister’s strong rebuttal comes within 24 hours of Banerjee criticising the ECIas being “biased and motivated” for transferring four senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers in the state. These four - Commissioners of Kolkata Police and Bidhannagar Police, as well as, Superintendents of Police of Diamond Harbour and Birbhum - have not only been replaced, but, also barred from any poll duty.

In a letter to the ECI, Mamata Banejee wrote, “The decision of the Commission is highly arbitrary, motivated and biased. We have every reason to believe that the decision of the Commission is at the behest of the ruling party at the centre, i.e, the BJP. Few days back, the BJP leaders commented in a press statement that senior officers of the state in the police administration would soon be replaced by the ECI.”

War of words

The war of words between Banerjee and Narendra Modi has been going on for a while. When the Prime Minister referred to Banerjee as a “speed breaker to development”; Banerjee named him “expiry Babu” and “ex- Prime Minister”.

“Earlier she (Mamata) would criticise me with the choicest of words. Now they are going after the ECI. Why? It is because Didi sees the political ground beneath her feet slipping away. She is afraid and insecure now,” Modi said while addressing a rally at Cooch Behar in northern West Bengal, some 800 kilometres (kms) from Kolkata.

Modi spoke of bringing-in the ‘enclave exchange’ treaty with Bangladesh thereby giving citizenship to over 15,000 stateless enclave dwellers. Other issues like The Citizenship Amendment Bill and the National Register of Citizen (NRC)were raked up as the PM sought to allay fears amongst voters. These issues found resonance in certain districts of North Bengal due to continuous influx of immigrants via Assam.

“I wanted to bring in the NRC and The Citizenship Amendment Bill in Assam. But even then, your Didi and her maha-milavat gathbandhan (motley mix of Opposition parties) have stalled it,” he said.

Moreover, Modi further criticised the Banerjee-led government in West Bengal for alleged involvement of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Ponzi schemes like the Saradha and Rose Valley scams, and also the Narada sting operation where Trinamool law-makers were seen taking money in lieu of favours.

Phase 1 due

Modi’s rally in Cooch Behar has assumed significance. The election in Cooch Behar and the neighbouring Alipurduar constituency are to be held in the first phase which is scheduled to take place on April 11.

The other north Bengal seats that will go to polls in the second and third phase include Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Ranigunj ans Balurghat.

The rally on Sunday was the PM’s second rally in the region in a week. The first one took place at Siliguri on April 3. The third is expected at Balurghat, later this week.

Published on April 07, 2019

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