The Election Commission Thursday issued a notice to Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee over her repeated attempts to “berate and vilify” central armed police forces by “falsely” suggesting they may intimidate electors to vote for a particular party and even inciting women voters during a recent speech to “gherao” the uniformed personnel. This is the second EC notice to Banerjee in the last couple of days.
The TMC chief hit back at EC on Friday, saying she disn’t “care about your showcause letters” and would “continue speaking about CRPF until they stop working for BJP”. That prompted home minister Amit Shah to say, “The frustration of TMC over its impending defeat is evident from her (Mamata’s) action and speeches”.
The EC said it was prima facie convinced that Mamata’s two statements — one during a TV interview telecast on March 28 and another in a speech on April 7 in Cooch Behar — were in violation of the model code of conduct as well as Sections 186, 189 and 504 of Indian Penal Code. The poll panel’s notice asked Banerjee to explain her stand by 11 am on Saturday.
Calling Banerjee’s statements “completely false, provocative and intemperate”, the EC said her attempts to taint central paramilitary forces during the electoral process were “causing extreme demoralisation“ among the rank and file of the forces which had made “immense contribution” to conduct of free, fair and peaceful polls since the 1980s. It said her comments had the potential to drive a “wedge of distrust” between the state police and the central forces.
This is the second notice to Banerjee in the last couple of days. On Wednesday, the EC had issued her a notice over her appeal for votes along communal lines, saying it violated the model code as well as Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act.
The latest EC notice said the chief minister’s barbs and false accusations were running down the very forces “who have… made a commendable contribution, especially in ensuring area domination and causing deterrence for anti-social hooligans by their sheer presence, thereby playing a major role in assisting the EC to conduct free, fair, transparent and accessible elections”.
“Far more discouraging is the fact that Banerjee has been trying to make an emotional pitch for women voters to go to the extent of inciting them to attack the personnel of CAPFs. It is extremely unfortunate that political battles are thus sought to be fought in this manner instead of being fought in the campaign trail,” the EC said.
In the notice, the poll panel recalled that when it had visited West Bengal on February 21, a Trinamool Congress delegation had alleged that BSF personnel were intimidating villagers living in border areas to vote in favour of a particular party in the polls. The delegation, however, could not submit any evidence in this regard.
“I have asked for concrete instances. They (BSF) are one of the finest forces in the country. There is no point in castigating any force, ad nauseam,” CEC Sunil Arora had said.