Election Commission bars Mamata from campaigning for 24 hours, cites violations of model code, the IPC and the RPA; Mamata to sit in dharna in Kolkata

Published : April 12, 2021 22:25 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an election rally in Nadia, on April 12. Photo: PTI

In a dramatic development, the Election Commission of India barred West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours, from 8 p.m. on April 12. In a five-page order, the EC expressed dissatisfaction at Mamata’s response to the notices it had sent to her on April 7 and April 8, for violation of the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct, Sections 123(3) and (3A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and Sections 186, 189 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and imposed “a ban of twenty four hours on Ms Mamata Banerjee from campaigning in any manner from 8.00 p.m. of 12.4.2021 till 8.00 p.m. of 13.4.2021”. Reacting to the EC’s notice, Mamata announced on social media: “To protest against the undemocratic and unconstitutional decision of the Election Commission of India, I will sit on dharna tomorrow at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata from 12 noon.”

The EC’s notice to Mamata on April 7 was regarding an election speech she made, in which she said, “I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands don’t divide the minority votes after listening to the devil (shaitan) person who had taken money from the BJP.” The EC’s notice sent on April 8, referred to speeches made by Mamata in which she is heard exhorting voters to “attack” the Central police and to “gherao” them. “If any of our mothers and sisters suffers a single stroke with the stick attack them with ladle, spuds and knife. I am telling you,” she said in one speech, as pointed out by the EC. In another speech the EC order quotes her saying, “And If CAPF create disturbances, I tell you ladies, a group of you go and restrain (gherao) them, while another group will go to cast their votes.”

In its summing up, the EC order stated: “Whereas, the Commission has carefully considered the matter and is of the considered view that Ms Mamata Banerjee, who also happens to be the Chief Minister of the State, has in violation of the provisions of Model Code of Conduct as well as Section 123(3) and (3A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and Sections 186, 189 and 505 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 made highly insinuating and provocative remarks laden with serious potential of breakdown of law and order and thereby adversely affecting the election process.” Condemning Mamata’s statements, the EC “sternly warns Ms Mamata Banerjee and advises her to desist from using such statements while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is enforced.”

Right from the beginning of the Assembly election, Mamata has been at loggerheads with the EC. She has alleged that the EC has been working at the behest of the BJP; recently she renamed the Model Code of Conduct as “Modi Code of Conduct and also expressed disregard for the EC’s notices.

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