New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) served a notice to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for allegedly inciting the women voters of the poll bound state during her speech in Cooch Behar on Wednesday to ‘gherao’ CRPF personnel. The veteran leader was even accused of making repeated attempts to “berate and vilify” Central para-military forces by “falsely” suggesting that they may intimidate electors to vote for a particular party.
What got her served notice were her two statements that were found to be in violation of model code of conduct as well as Sections 186, 189 and 504 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Her controversial statements include – one during a TV interview telecast on March 28 and another in a speech on April 7 in Cooch Behar – against which the polling agency’s notice asked Banerjee to explain her stand in having made the statements, by 11 am on April 10.
Stating Banerjee’s conduct being “completely false, provocative and intemperate statements,” EC said her attempts to berate and vilify Central para-military forces during the electoral process “are causing extreme demoralisation” amongst the rank and file of the forces that have made immense contribution to conduct a free, fair and peaceful polls. It also said her comments had the potential to drive a “wedge of distrust” among the state police and the Central forces.
Notably, this is the second notice being issued to Banerjee in the last couple of days. On Wednesday, EC had issued, the 66-year-old politician, a notice over her appeal for votes along communal lines, saying that it was in violation of model code as well as Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act.
The latest EC notice accused her of making false accusations which found to be vilifying the very forces “who have been rendering a yeoman service since late 80s, election after election, and 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 ECI to conduct free, fair, transparent and accessible elections”.
“It is more than obvious that Ms Mamata Banerjee, Chairperson of AITMC, has been consistent in berating and demoralising the Central para-military forces, who often played a significant role in assisting the concerned state government and governments of union territories in restoration of law and order and/or as and when requisitioned by the state governments etc. in their day to day functioning also. Far more discouraging is the fact that Ms Banerjee has been trying to make an emotional pitch for the women voters to go to the extent of inciting them to attack the personnel of CPFs… It is extremely unfortunate that political battles are thus sought to be fought in this manner instead of being fought in the campaign trail etc,” said the EC.
Meanwhile, appreciating the Central forces, EC said they have invariably done commendable job on the duties assigned to them in all sectors, to the extent of laying down their lives, the most recent being the tragic episode of Bijapur, Chhattisgarh.
“It also needs to be placed on record that they and many other ministries and departments of the Union government and departments of state governments assist the ECI for the conduct of elections. But the praiseworthy role of central forces in ensuring free, fair, transparent and accessible elections merits a special mention,” it stated.
Highlighting Banerjee’s statements that vilify the Central forces, EC said, that it could have serious consequential damage even after the process of elections is over, “can create a wedge of distrust between the state police of West Bengal, who are also doing their own duty with the central forces, instead of complementing each other.”
Additionally, on Wednesday at Cooch Behar she made further “highly objectionable remarks” about CRPF, as per EC’s transcript of that day, “They will bring goons from Assam to create panic….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,” she had stated during her public address.