Mamata Banerjee draws EC ire for remarks on minority votes, poll body sends notice
The Election Commission of India sent a notice to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday for allegedly urging the minority community not to allow a split in their votes and demanding votes on communal ground.
This comes a day after PM Modi had said from a public rally that he was not sure whether the ECI had sent any letter to Mamata Banerjee for appealing to the Muslim population and urging them to prevent their votes from getting split.
The poll panel has given the TMC chief 48-hours to respond, failing which the ECI may take a decision without any further reference.
A BJP delegation in Delhi led by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had lodged a complaint with the poll panel earlier this week alleging that on April 3, Banerjee had appealed to Muslim voters not to let their votes be split among different political parties and openly demanded votes on communal ground for the TMC.
“The commission gives you an opportunity to explain your stand in making the statement within 48 hours of receipt of the notice, failing which the commission shall take a decision without further reference to you,” the notice stated.
Banerjee had appealed to the minority community not to divide the minority votes from a rally at Tarakeshwar in Hooghly district on April 3.
“I appeal to my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands. Don’t split the minority votes listening to the devil, who is moving around with BJP’s money. He makes many communal statements and triggers clashes between the Hindus and Muslims,” Banerjee had said while addressing the rally.
The poll panel said in its letter that Banerjee’s statement was examined and was found to be in violation of the provisions contained in Section 123(3), 3(A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and also clauses 2,3,4 of Part 1 of General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates.
“Mamatadi issued notice by @ECISVEEP on @BJP’s complaint. What about TMC complaints of 1. Video evidence of BJP candidate distributing cash 2. Cash coupons distributed to attend BJP mtng & vote. Gentlemen - at least keep up the farce of impartiality!” Mahua Moitra, TMC MP tweeted on Wednesday evening.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in an election rally in north Bengal that the TMC chief’s appeal to the Muslim population not to divide their votes indicates that she has lost their support,
“Dear Didi, recently you said all Muslims should unite, and not allow their votes to be divided. You are saying this means that you are convinced that the Muslim vote bank has also gone out of your hands, the Muslims have also turned away from you,” Modi had said.
He had also said: “If I had urged Hindus to unite and vote for BJP, the ECI would have sent me 8 to 10 notices. The poll panel sends notices to the Prime Ministers too. It would have made front-page news and all sorts of editorial pieces would have been written to tear me apart. I don’t know whether the ECI has sent any notice to didi,” Modi had said on Tuesday while addressing the same rally.
“This is not a big issue. Mamata will reply within 48 hours. Such incidents happen during elections. The ECI doesn’t have the power to behead someone or disqualify a candidate. They have raised objection, Mamata will explain,” said Saugata Roy, TMC MP.