The Election Commission of India on 12 April imposed a ban of 24 hours on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from “campaigning in any manner” from 8 PM of 12 April until 8 PM of 13 April.
“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 order said.
The order comes amid Mamata Banerjee’s reported remarks with communal overtones.
Through a textual message to the chief minister, the EC said, “It is self-evident from the perusal of all reports that allegations mentioned in your hand-written note are factually incorrect, without any empirical evidence whatsoever and devoid of substance.”
The EC order reproduced the “key part” of her reported speech.
The text of Banerjee’s speech quoted in the commission’s order read: “I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands don’t divide the minority votes after listening to the devil (shaitaan) person who had taken money from the BJP. He passes many communal statements and initiates clashes between the Hindu and the Muslims…”
“The comrades of CPM and BJP is roaming around with the money given by BJP to divide the minority votes. Please don’t allow them to do so. Keep in mind that if the BJP comes to the government then you will be in severe danger”, read text of her speech quoted in the EC order.
On her reported remarks against central armed police forces, Banerjee told the poll panel that she had only called upon the voters, specifically voters who are women, to protest democratically by “gherao” if and when somebody, including the forces, created any obstruction in their right to vote.
In fact, Mamata Banerjee had said in the course of her address to Trinamool Congress workers and supporters in District Cooch Behar that while non-violence was a good thing, her supporters must not hesitate to “slap” the security men if the situation so demanded ― a comment missing from what the EC asked the chief minister to clarify, explain or justify.
“Gherao is one of the democratic ways of registering public protest and accepted, and there is no reason why gherao should be considered as illegal. Be it noted that the multi-dimensional word ‘gherao‘ has been a legitimate entry in the in the political lexicon of West Bengal since the late 1960s, and in recent years, more frequently than not, the word has been used to connote peaceful satyagraha against authorities by silent victims of a situation,” she said.
The order said in her reply, on remarks against central forces, Banerjee has “yet again conveniently left out key parts of her speech, perhaps due to selective amnesia”.
The order reproduced portion of her speech to drive home the point that she had violated the model code, provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the Indian Penal Code.
“l know under whose instruction they beat up and how they beat up. It is your duty to save the family of the people. If any of our mothers and sisters suffers a single stroke with the stick attack them with ladle, spuds and knife. I am telling you. It is the right of women. And if anyone of our mothers and sisters is denied entry in the voting compartment all of you come out and revolt,” the order said, reproducing portions of her speech.
Editor’s note: The above is not an accurate translation of what West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said in Bangla, the correct version of which was published in Sirf News on 7 April. The translation above lessens the gravity of Banerjee’s provocation, which apparently led to a mild punitive action against her.
Meanwhile, responding to EC’s order, Mamata said she would be sitting on dharna tomorrow to protests against the order.
“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 CM said.
Earlier, EC had issued notice to West Bengal chief minister and TMC suMamata Banerjee for seeking votes over communal grounds.
EC has asked her to explain her stand within 48 hours.
The notice is based on a complaint by a BJP delegation led by Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
The EC found the statement to be in violation contained in Section 123 (3), 3 (A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and clauses (2), (3) and (4) of Part 1 of ‘General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates’.
Clause (3) of the above states that “there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship shall not be used as a forum for election propaganda”.
The assembly election in West Bengal began on March 27 and four of the eight phases of the polls have been completed.