TMC alleges Model Code of Conduct violation by BJP; calls on EC to create 'level-playing field'
- O'Brien also accused BJP of creating a false narrative about the TMC and said that it is being used to "influence the electorate in the state".
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O'Brien on Wednesday wrote a letter to the Election Commission of India (ECI) accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of violating the model code of conduct, which is in place since the announcement of Assembly elections, thereby disturbing the level playing field in the poll-bound state. In his letter, O'Brien said that the BJP is misusing central investigation agencies to "deliberately disturb and/or summon" party officials in cases that are pending for the past five years.
"Part VII of the Model Code of Conduct prohibits the party in power both at the Centre and in the State to use their official position for the purpose of an election campaign. Shockingly, the same is being violated with impunity by the party in power at the Centre. I would like to draw your urgent attention to the following two instances," the TMC leader wrote in the letter. "On the contrary, the same central agencies have not summoned any candidates/leaders/spokespersons of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), though equally accused in such alleged crimes," O'Brien claimed.
O'Brien also accused BJP of creating a false narrative about the TMC and said that it is being used to "influence the electorate in the state".
Underling that the police is under EC control now, O'Brien called on the poll body to give necessary directions to the central investigative agencies regarding this and stop them taking biased or partisan action in the pending cases. "It is imperative and necessary that the ECI immediately issue necessary directions to central agencies namely, ED, CBI, NIA, IT, etc., working in the State mandating that such central agencies refrain from taking biased/partisan coercive steps/action during the pendency of the ongoing elections," O'Brien also said in the letter.
O'Brien also alleged that BJP's star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home ministers Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath are "utilizing and misusing their government office, such as official government transport, official machinery, personnel etc, for the purpose of election campaigning." He also urged the ECI to create a level-playing field.
The letter comes days after Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned senior TMC leader Madan Mitra in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam. He was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2014 for his alleged role in the scam. However, in September 2016 Mitra was granted bail on the condition that he will cooperate in the investigation.
The scam first came to the light in 2013 when it was reported that the Saradha Group of companies raised ₹2,500 crore from small investors through false promises to give a higher rate of return on their investments.
Elections will be held on 294 seats of West Bengal in eight phases beginning March 27. The voting will conclude on April 29 and the counting will take place on May 2.