Mamata Banerjee's appeal to Muslims violated model code of conduct, says Election Commission
The remarks were made by Mamata Banerjee at Tarakeshwar in Hooghly district. The Election Commission has given her 48 hours to explain her stand.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday sent a notice to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her appeal to Muslim voters in the state to unite against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during an election rally in the poll-bound state. The commission said that Banerjee violated the provisions of model code of conduct with her remark.
The remarks were made by the chief minister at Tarakeshwar in Hooghly district. She is contesting the elections from Nandigram.
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The ECI has given Banerjee 48 hours to explain her stand, failing which it will take a decision. The EC notice came on a complaint from a BJP delegation led by Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Speaking at the rally, Banerjee urged the Muslim voters to not vote for the BJP.
"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 initiate clashes between the Hindu and the Muslims. He is one of the apostles of the BJP, a BJP comrade. The comrades of CPM and BJP is roaming around with the money given by BJP to divide the minority-votes," said Banerjee. The remarks have been highlighted by the ECI in its notice.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the West Bengal chief minister saying these reflect the fears that minority votes are slipping out of her hands.
"Didi recently asked all Muslims to vote en bloc for her. It shows that the Muslim vote bank is slipping out of her hands. Had we said the same thing that all Hindus should unite, everybody would have criticised us. The EC would have sent us notices. We would have been censured," he said while addressing a rally in north Bengal on Tuesday.
“This proves that the people you had relied upon to win the elections have abandoned you and you are now publicly urging Muslims to unite and vote for you and save you,” PM Modi said.
The Prime Minister also claimed that Banerjee has hurt Bengalis' self-esteem by stating that people are lured to his rallies with money.
Of the total 294 constituencies in the state, 125 have a significant Muslim population.
According to the last Census, Muslims account for 27% of the state’s population. The community has traditionally voted for the Left and switched to the TMC in the last few elections. In the 2016 assembly polls, TMC, which won 211 of the 294 seats, won 90 seats in Muslim-dominated constituencies.
Polling has been held in three of the eight phases in West Bengal Assembly elections. The results will be declared on May 2.