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As Bengal votes in final phase, Mamata Banerjee asks EC to ensure impartial polls

In a missive written to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on her official letterhead, Banerjee said the EC should ensure that Sunday’s polling is held without the “undue interference of the central government” and any “intervention by the ruling party at the Centre”.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 18, 2019 23:37 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee,West Bengal CM,polls
Questioning the impartiality of the EC, Mamata Banerjee said the state has seen a number of “illegal, unconstitutional and biased decision during the election process. (Photo: Reuters)

Hours before the final phase of polling West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to the Election Commission on Saturday and urged the poll body to ensure “peaceful and impartial” elections in the state without the interference of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In a missive written to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on her official letterhead, Banerjee said the EC should ensure that Sunday’s polling is held without the “undue interference of the central government” and any “intervention by the ruling party at the Centre”.

Polling will be held in nine Lok Sabha constituencies in and around the city that is considered a Trinamool Congress (TMC) stronghold. A bitter fight for the state has seen pitched battles between the TMC and BJP workers on the streets of Kolkata and the EC cutting short campaigning by a day and replacing top officials. “In the final phase of the election tomorrow, I would request your good office to kindly ensure that election is completed peacefully, impartially and without any undue interference of the Central government and any intervention by the ruling party at the centre,” Banerjee wrote.

Questioning the impartiality of the EC, Banerjee said the state has seen a number of “illegal, unconstitutional and biased decision during the election process because of the influence of the central government and the ruling party (BJP) at the centre.

Referring to BJP president Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata on May 14, after which Vidyasagar College was vandalised and a bust of the 19th century social reformer broken, Banerjee alleged the new Kolkata Police commissioner appointed by the EC withdrew prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC imposed in the area.

“The roadshow was itself a deliberate, intentional and criminal conspiracy to vandalise the culture and heritage of Kolkata and West Bengal and also to defame the West Bengal government and its people,” Banerjee wrote. She alleged that the two special observers appointed for Bengal were biased and influenced by the Centre.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also asked the EC to ensure free and fair polls by deploying adequate central paramilitary forces.

No BJP leaders could be contacted for a comment.

First Published: May 18, 2019 23:09 IST

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