Election Commission is BJP’s parrot: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday attacked the Election Commission of India (EC) by calling it “BJP’s parrot” even as she welcomed the Madras high court’s remarks earlier in the day where it pulled up the poll panel for allowing political rallies amid the raging coronavirus pandemic across the country.
“I welcome the order of the Madras high court. The court has clearly said that the EC can’t shrug off its responsibility for the rise in Covid-19 cases. It has become a parrot and a mynah of the BJP. It is because of them that Covid-19 cases have shot up,” said Banerjee, while addressing a virtual election rally.
The Madras high court observed that the EC was “singularly responsible” for the second wave of Covid-19 and that the poll body’s officials could be booked for murder for allowing political rallies amid the pandemic during the hearing of a petition on facilities to ensure that Covid-19 safety norms are followed during voting in Tamil Nadu’s Karur constituency.
“I want to put the EC in the dock for the rise in Covid-19 cases. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and EC, both are responsible,” said Banerjee, adding that it was a “monumental incompetence’.
The TMC government has been at loggerheads with the EC, repeatedly accusing the poll panel of working at the behest of the BJP-led government at the Centre. Both the BJP and the commission have refuted such charges.
“We repeatedly urged the EC to club the last few phases amid the second [Covid] wave. They didn’t, just to satisfy the BJP. The day a top BJP leader cancelled his meeting, the EC came out speaking like a mynah, telling other parties that campaigning was over,” she added.
Last week, the Calcutta high court had censured the EC, saying that issuing circulars and holding meetings on Covid guidelines was not enough.
Following the Calcutta HC order, the EC had capped the attendance at public events to 500 people for the last two phases of the West Bengal elections.
Senior officials of the poll panel in Kolkata refused to comment on the chief minister’s remarks.
But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attributed the CM’s outburst to her nervousness. “As the counting day approaches nearer, she is getting more nervous. She knows that after May 2 [vote counting day], her party would be obliterated and hence, she is making such wild allegations. The BJP has abided by whatever orders the EC has given. One should ask her why she didn’t attend any of the Covid-19 meetings called by PM Modi?” said party state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar.
Meanwhile, Monday marked the end of campaigning for the crucial West Bengal assembly elections of 2021. The last and eighth phase of the polls is scheduled on April 29. The EC has already increased the silence period of campaigning from 48 hours to 72 hours. The last 35 of the 294 assembly seats go into polls in the eighth phase scheduled this Thursday.