The Election Commission’s order came after Banerjee's alleged remarks against “central forces”.

Mamata Banerjee talking with a mic in her handPTI
news Politics Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - 09:43

Protesting against the Election Commission’s decision to bar West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours, the Trinamool Congress chief has said that she will stage a dharna on Tuesday 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 (sic)."

The Election Commission’s order came after Banerjee's alleged remarks against “central forces” and a statement which had alleged religious overtones. According to reports, attending a rally in March, Mamata Banerjee allegedly stated that the central police were threatening women without allowing them to vote. She further added that she knows who was behind that and allegedly said that if ‘our mothers and sisters’ are striked, ‘attack them with ladles and knives’.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission in its order stated, "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.”

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 Trinamool 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? (sic)" 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 (sic)," he added.

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.

(With PTI inputs)

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