The Election Commission on Monday imposed a 24-hour poll campaigning ban on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her remarks against central forces and a statement which had alleged religious overtones. The ban has been imposed from 8 pm of April 12 till 8 pm of April 13. 

“Mamata Banerjee has in violation of the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct as well as Section 123(3) & 3A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and Sections 186, 189 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 made highly insinuating and provocative remarks laden with serious potential of the breakdown of law & order and thereby adversely affecting the election process,” the poll body order said.

It said that the “commission also imposes a ban of 24 hours on Ms Mamata Banerjee from campaigning in any manner from 8.00 pm of April 12 till 8.00 pm of April 13 

Banerjee said that she will sit on dharna to protest against the “unconstitutional and undemocratic ban” imposed by the Election Commission. “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,” she said in a tweet. 

Hitting out at the poll body for imposing campaigning ban, senior Trinamool Congress leader Derel O’ Brien said that EC stands for “extremely compromised” and termed it “a black day in our Indian democracy.”

Before the ban, Banerjee had been served two notices by the poll body which said her replies to them betrayed “selective amnesia”. The TMC chief was asked to explain her stand on speeches made on March 28 and April 7, allegedly accusing central forces of intimidating voters and urging women to hit back or surround the security personnel.  

“Who gave so much power to them that the central police are threatening the women without allowing them to cast their votes? I saw the same thing in 2019, I saw the same thing in 2016,” Mamata Banerjee said in the March rally.

“I know under whose instruction they beat up and how they beat up. It is your duty to save the family of the people. If any of our mothers and sisters suffer a single strike with the stick attack them with ladle, spuds and knife. I am telling you. It is the right of women. And if any of our mothers and sisters are denied entry in the voting compartment all of you come out and revolt,” she added.

Responding to the notice, Mamata Banerjee said that the EC can issue 10 notices to her but her reply will remain the same. “You (EC) can issue 10 show-cause notices to me, but my reply will be the same. I will always speak against any division in Hindu, Muslim votes. I will always stand against the division of voters along religious lines,” she said.

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