Mamata Banerjee stages dharna in Kolkata to protest EC's 24-hour ban on her campaigning in West Bengal assembly polls

Mamata Banerjee is protesting what she calls the Election Commission of India's "unconstitutional decision" to bar her from campaigning for 24 hours in the ongoing state assembly polls
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee sits on a dharna at Gandhi Murti in Kolkata on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (HT Photo)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee sits on a dharna at Gandhi Murti in Kolkata on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (HT Photo)
Updated on Apr 13, 2021 12:04 PM IST
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West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna on Tuesday at Gandhi Murti in Kolkata, news agency ANI reported, as a mark of protest against what she called the Election Commission of India's "unconstitutional decision" to bar her from campaigning for 24 hours in the ongoing state assembly polls. The poll panel's order had come after Banerjee's remarks against central forces and a statement which had alleged religious overtones.

Yesterday, the Election Commission had notified that it was barring West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours from 8pm on Monday till 8pm on Tuesday. The poll body said that Banerjee had made "highly insinuating and provocative remarks laden with the serious potential of the breakdown of law and order and thereby affecting the election process" and advised her "to desist from using such statements while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force." The development came ahead of the fifth phase of the assembly polls in the state on April 17.

Reacting to the ban imposed on her, Mamata Banerjee said that the order was "undemocratic and unconstitutional" and announced that she will sit on dharna on Tuesday at Gandhi Murti in Kolkata from 12 noon.

Members of the Trinamool Congress also joined party supremo Mamata Banerjee in slamming the poll panel for its decision. TMC national vice-president Yashwant Sinha said that every institution of democracy has been compromised and that the EC had shed "whatever pretence it had" regarding its impartiality. He alleged that the poll body was acting at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), under direct orders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah. "Every institution of democracy is compromised today. What hope do we have?" he tweeted. Echoing him, TMC's Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien said that it was a black day for India's democracy.

The BJP, however, welcomed the decision and accused the 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," news agency PTI quoted BJP leader Sourav Sikdar as saying.

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.


(With inputs from agencies)

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Saturday, May 21, 2022