Kolkata, May 16: War of words between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP leadership at the Centre, violence during Amit Shah's roadshow leading to desecration of the bust of iconic social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and invocation of Article 324 snipping last and seventh phase campaign time permeate the election air of Bengal in this year's Lok Sabha.
In a dramatic development last night, the Election Commission cracking the whip using Article 324 of the Constitution, which was without precedence in the country, truncated the campaign period by almost 19 hours in nine Lok Sabha seats of Bengal going to polls on Sunday.
The move came a day after violence during Tuesday's roadshow by BJP president Amit Shah in the city coupled with a multitude of clashes in the run-up to May 19 polls. The poll body also took the decision to relieve ADG, CID, Rajeev Kumar and Principal Secretary, Home, Atri Bhattacharya from their responsibilities.
Terming the EC order as 'unprecedented, unconstitutional, unethical and politically biased', Ms Banerjee thundered that the people of Bengal are very angry, and they will give a fitting reply on 19th. ' The move to curtail campaigning one day early is a Modi and BJP decision. We have been kept in the dark throughout. '
' I have never criticised any constitutional body. But today when Bengal and its people and heritage are under attack, I will fight back boldly. I will go to the end to seek justice and give a fitting reply to all this wrong, ' she asserted.
' Amit Shah in a press conference threatened the EC. Is this the result of that? Bengal is not scared. Bengal was targeted because I am speaking against Modi. Election Commission’s decision is unfair, unethical and politically biased. PM Modi has been given time to finish his two rallies on May 16. He did not have any regret for what happened at Vidyasagar College, ' she remarked.
' The EC is getting the election done with central forces. We have recorded all the developments from the beginning. Amit Shah created the trouble o Tuesday. His rally had elements who attacked Vidyasagar College and his statue. Action should be taken against Amit Shah. Why was Amit Shah not show caused? We did not bring anyone from outside. Local people reacted spontaneously. All the recordings are there, ' the Trinamool supremo commented.
' I will protest, and if they have any problem, let them show cause me. I will face them for the sake of the people. Law and order is not that much of problem in Bengal, where has the violence occurred? And how much forces have you sent to other states. You want to create a bad name for Bengal? I have never seen this type of EC. They are being controlled by Modi and his men. They have not taken a single action against the complaints we have made with them, ' Ms Banerjee quipped.'
Why does the EC not show cause the BJP for exceeding the limit? What wrong did home secretary do? He just said the state police should accompany central forces as they don’t know the lay of the land. I have cooperated with the EC all along. But what are you doing? You are partial, you are doing the bidding of the ruling party at the Centre. But all this will not sway the people, ' she iterated.
' If the judiciary is under pressure, if the media is bought, if all the constitutional bodies are controlled, then where will the people go? We have all the records and watch on the EVMs too. We will fight and reach a rightful outcome. Your vendetta and your acquiescence to the ruling party members including Nirmala Sitaraman who said the CM should be stopped from campaigning. So you are listening to them. But sorry to say Mr Election Commissioner, all your efforts will be in vain. The people will finally decide. In fact, I am not going to SC over this because I am confident that they will defeat Modi and you as well, ' the Chief Minister averred.
Earlier, condemning the vandalisation of the bust of Ishwar chandra Vidyasagar, Ms Banerjee said she has never seen such political violence in Kolkata and added an inquiry would be initiated. Ms Banerjee and other TMC leaders changed their Twitter profile pictures to iconic social reformer Ishwar chandra Vidyasagar's photo as a mark of protest.
“It is a very unfortunate incident and an entire college was vandalised. A bust of Ishwar chandra Vidyasagar was broken. I have kept broken parts of the bust where the original statue was there. I have never seen such political violence in Kolkata,” Ms Banerjee observed.
She accused the BJP of bringing “miscreants” from other states like Bihar, Rajasthan and spending crores of rupees to put up cut-outs for the roadshow.
“Does Amit Shah have any idea about the University of Calcutta that is our pride? Who is he? Can’t they stage protest demonstrations against him? Many people protest against me by putting up posters. I don't mind. In a democratic framework why have the BJP’s goons attacked Vidyasagar College?” she asked.
She also accused the BJP of circulating a “fake” press statement alleging the Trinamool organised the violence.She also said, “An outsider leader provoked and taught them to create unrest. People of Bengal will not tolerate such thing. We condemn it. Whenever I organise any meeting or rally, they do hold counter programmes after taking permission from police through the Election Commission.”
Calling BJP president Amit Shah a ‘liar’ and alleging that the clash erupted in Kolkata on Tuesday was a ‘plot by outsiders’ led by the BJP, the party also approached Election Commission and submitted video footage of the ‘attack’ as the proof.
Led by party spokesperson Derek O'Brien and accompanied by senior leaders Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Manish Gupta and Nadimul Haque said that they have ‘lots of hope’ that the Commission will take action against the prefectures of the violence. “What happened yesterday was bad, it was outsiders plot. Students were protesting peacefully with placards and flexes, But the outsiders does not accept this democratic protest, and eventually they jumped over the gate of the university and vandalised properties and smashed Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s statue”, Mr O’Brien said after the meeting with the Commission.
He said that the party has submitted ‘credible’ video footage that people wearing saffron jumped inside the campus and broken the statue. “Amit Shah’s press conference proved again that he is a liar. 10 days ago the same Shah came to Bengal and announced in an election rally that the great Rabindranath Tagore was born in Bhirbhum district. He didn’t even know Tagore was born in Kolkata. Just 48 hours ago he has again gone to Bengal and called Bengal, ‘Kangal’, Mr O’Brien said.
He said, ' Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Shah did the same tricks in Gujarat in 2002, and now they are trying it everywhere. The only difference is that it is West Bengal and there is Mamata Banerjee. ”Earlier, the BJP president claimed that “he would not have escaped unhurt without CRPF protection”.
'If Mamata Banerjee thinks that violence will help her win elections, I want to tell her - Didi, you may be senior to me in age but I have more experience. I want to advise you on elections - more 'kichad (mud) of violence' you spread, more Lotus will bloom,' said Mr Shah.
He made very clear that it was not violence but an 'attack' on him and his party workers. Mr Shah also alleged that the state Election Commission was being a mute spectator to the attempts to rig the election in West Bengal.
'The state Election Commission is being a mute spectator to the attempts to rig the election in West Bengal. History sheeters weren't arrested in even one place in the state. Why such double standards?' he asked.' I'd like to tell Mamata Banerjee - you're only contesting 42 seats, BJP is contesting pan-India. If BJP was violent wouldn't there be clashes in elsewhere? '
Mr Shah questioned and also presented visual evidence to buttress his allegation that it wasn't his party's cadres that triggered the violence and accused Trinamool Congress of destroying of 19th century reformer Vidyasagar's bust in an attempt to gain sympathy.
'If you want to send a message that by filing a FIR against me the BJP karyakartas will become fearful, then I want to tell you that, on the contrary, they and the people of West Bengal will make efforts with renewed vigour to remove you,' Mr Shah said. (UNI)