New Delhi: In an unprecedented move the Election Commission on Wednesday cut short the West Bengal poll campaign by almost 24 hours before schedule after the violence and desecration of the statue of Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during a clash between Trinamul and BJP workers in Kolkata on Tuesday evening.
This is the first time that the EC has invoked Article 324 of the Constitution, but ‘this may not be the last time’, deputy election commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar declared.
The West Bengal campaign, which was expected to end at 5 pm on Friday evening, will now end at 10 pm on Thursday.
Article 324 gives special powers to the EC on the superintendence, direction and control of elections, including preparation of electoral rolls.
Attacking the Election Commission for curtailing the campaigning, Trinamul supremo Mamata Banerjee said it is an ‘unprecedented, unconstitutional and unethical gift’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the poll panel.
Ms Banerjee said she had never seen this type of EC which is ‘full of RSS people’.
‘There is no such law and order problem in West Bengal that Article 324 can be clamped. It is unprecedented, unconstitutional and unethical. It is actually a gift to Modi and (BJP president) Amit Shah,’ she claimed in a press conference.
Nine Lok Sabha seats in the state are going to the polls on May 19. The final phase in West Bengal will be held in Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Joynagar, Mathurapur, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, South and North Kolkata.
The EC has also transferred out two bureaucrats from West Bengal for ‘interfering in election process’. They are Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary (home and hill affairs) and ADG (CID) Rajeev Kumar, the controversial former Kolkata police commissioner. The chief secretary is likely to monitor the work of the principal secretary.