In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission on Thursday issued a show-cause notice to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for violating the model code of conduct.
In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission on Thursday issued a show-cause notice to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for violating the model code of conduct. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said she had made a statement in Asansol promising to make it a separate district, which was a violation of the model code of conduct during Assembly elections. Mr Zaidi also revealed that the EC had initiated “urgent legal action” against Trinamul Congress’ Birbhum district president, Anubrata Mondal, against whom Opposition parties have lodged numerous complaints.
“The commission has issued a show-cause notice to Ms Banerjee. It was brought to our knowledge that some kind of promise was made for the creation of Asansol district,” Mr Zaidi said. It is the first time that a chief minister of Bengal has been issued a show-cause notice by the Election Commission. “She also made some other utterances which violated the model code of conduct. Upon receiving a reply from Ms Banerjee, the future course of action will be decided,” Mr Zaidi added.
A defiant Ms Banerjee dared the EC to do whatever it wanted against her. On the warpath against the EC for slapping the notice on Bengali New Year day, she said: “The people will show-cause you on May 19 (when the election results will be announced).”
Addressing an election rally at Birbhum’s Muraroi, Ms Banerjee alleged the EC had taken the stringent measures at the behest of her opponents.
Mr Zaidi announced that the show-cause notice was served on her because she had promised to make Asansol a separate district.
But Ms Banerjee said she was issued the notice because she had promised to settle scores with the Opposition inch by inch after the elections.
“Yes, I have said that I will seek an answer inch by inch. I will seek answers for the slander, injustice and character assassination. It is my democratic right to seek an answer. I stick to what I have said. I have no regrets for what I had said. If you call my party ‘thief’, then I will definitely seek an answer. I will say it thousands of times. Exercise whatever power you have against me. Will you transfer me to Delhi like you have transferred my police officers,” she asked.
An agitated Ms Banerjee at a later rally told her party workers that she wanted “revenge” for the EC’s show-cause notice. “The EC has issued a show-cause notice to me. Ami inchi te inchi te er badla chaiyi (I want inch-by-inch revenge for this),” she said and then reiterated that if her opponents called her a thief and spread canards against her, then she had every right to answer them. “I will say it thousands and lakhs and crores of times. It is my democratic right,” she claimed.
She accused the Election Commission of acting against her party leaders and police officers at the behest of her political opponents. “You are transferring a police officer every day.
There cannot be a brighter police officer than the city police commissioner (Rajeev Kumar) who you removed. You (EC) have so far removed 300 to 350 police officers on the advice of the Congress and BJP,” she alleged. She did not forget to lament the removal of the OC of Durgapur police station, Sujit Mukherjee, on April 10, a day before polling in Durgapur.
From the intensity of her reaction it became evident that both the show-cause notice and the marching orders to police officers considered close to the ruling party had hit where they hurt.
The EC also initiated “legal action” against Trinamul’s controversial Birbhum district president, Anubrata Mondal, for issuing threats to polling agents of Opposition parties. “The commission is initiating urgent legal action against him,” Mr Zaidi said. When asked about the kind of action, Mr Zaidi said, “Legal action covers everything and the commission will not divulge anything about it. You will get to know about it soon.”
Mr Mondal had recently said he would make the Opposition polling agents “vanish” on polling day to make sure the ruling party swept the poll. Birbhum district goes to polls in the second phase on April 17. Some Opposition parties demanded his “detention” and sought the removal of the “biased” DM and SP of Birbhum.
“The removal of some officers is under active consideration,” Mr Zaidi said.
Angered by the spectre of action against Mr Mondal, Ms Banerjee asked why he should be arrested. “What has Anubrata done Why don’t they arrest Salim, Adhir, Sujan, Biman and Buddha,” she asked, referring to CPI(M) and Congress leaders.