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Battleground Bengal: EC's different strokes for different folks

The Commission has barred Rahul Sinha from campaigning for 48 hours, issued notice to BJP state President Dilip Ghosh, while let off BJP’s Nandigram candidate with a reprimand for his “mini Pakistan” remarks

Sabrangindia 14 Apr 2021

west bengal election

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is yet again giving people reason to believe that all are not equal in its eyes. While on one hand, the EC has barred BJP leader Rahul Sinha from campaigning in West Bengal for 48 hours, for his comment on the Sitalkuchi firing, on the other the Commission has issued a notice to BJP President in the state, Dilip Ghosh for similar comments. On the other hand, it has only reprimanded BJP’s Nandigram candidate Suvendu Adhikari for his “mini Pakistan” remark.

Ghosh had allegedly said, “If someone crosses his limits then you have seen what happened in Sitalkuchi. There will be Sitalkuchi in several places.”

In Sinha’s case, the EC has acted without giving him an opportunity to be heard, and straightaway barred him from campaigning citing “urgency of the matter”. This is possibly the first time the EC has banned a political leader from electioneering without giving the person a chance to present his defence, reported the Indian Express. The EC stated in its order that Sinha’s statements were provocative, mocked human life, could incite forces, have law and order implications and violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

Sinha had said, “Not four, eight people should have been shot dead in Sitalkuchi. The Central forces should be issued a show-cause notice asking why they killed only four and not eight…Goons are trying to deprive people of their democratic rights. Central forces responded appropriately. If it happens again, they will answer again.”

On April 10, during the phase four of the Assembly elections, five people were killed in two separate incidents in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district. While four people were killed when paramilitary forces opened fire at polling booth number 126 in Amtali, another young man was killed at booth number 85 in Panthauli, also in Sitalkuchi. Following the violence, the Election Commission not only suspended voting in the area, but also banned entry of political leaders for 72 hours in Cooch Behar district that comprises nine Assembly constituencies.

But it is Suvendu Adhikari who has managed to get away with just a light rap on the knuckles. On March 29, the EC had issued a notice to Adhikari acting upon a complaint filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML) member Kavita Krishnan for his speech where he had said, “Election is knocking on the door. You are not giving votes to Begum. If you vote for Begum there will be mini Pakistan”. But, on the night of April 12, the EC issued an order “advising” Adhikari to “desist from using such statement while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force”. The order, however, noted that Adhikari violated Para 2 and 3 of Part 1 ‘General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates’.

Notably, TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was barred from campaigning for 24 hrs starting 8 P.M on April 12 by the EC. This action was taken in response to two complaints; one when she allegedly appealed to Muslims to ensure their vote does not get divided, and the other where she allegedly asked women to gherao (surround) personnel belonging to paramilitary forces if they try to disrupt voting. Interestingly, notice in both cases had been issued on April 8, mere hours apart.

Related:

Battleground Bengal: Campaign ban on Mamata Banerjee parting shot by outgoing CEC?

Sitalkuchi killings: This blood won’t wash easy…

Battleground Bengal: Five killed in Sitalkuchi, EC and Central forces under scanner again

Battleground Bengal: EC's different strokes for different folks

The Commission has barred Rahul Sinha from campaigning for 48 hours, issued notice to BJP state President Dilip Ghosh, while let off BJP’s Nandigram candidate with a reprimand for his “mini Pakistan” remarks

west bengal election

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is yet again giving people reason to believe that all are not equal in its eyes. While on one hand, the EC has barred BJP leader Rahul Sinha from campaigning in West Bengal for 48 hours, for his comment on the Sitalkuchi firing, on the other the Commission has issued a notice to BJP President in the state, Dilip Ghosh for similar comments. On the other hand, it has only reprimanded BJP’s Nandigram candidate Suvendu Adhikari for his “mini Pakistan” remark.

Ghosh had allegedly said, “If someone crosses his limits then you have seen what happened in Sitalkuchi. There will be Sitalkuchi in several places.”

In Sinha’s case, the EC has acted without giving him an opportunity to be heard, and straightaway barred him from campaigning citing “urgency of the matter”. This is possibly the first time the EC has banned a political leader from electioneering without giving the person a chance to present his defence, reported the Indian Express. The EC stated in its order that Sinha’s statements were provocative, mocked human life, could incite forces, have law and order implications and violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

Sinha had said, “Not four, eight people should have been shot dead in Sitalkuchi. The Central forces should be issued a show-cause notice asking why they killed only four and not eight…Goons are trying to deprive people of their democratic rights. Central forces responded appropriately. If it happens again, they will answer again.”

On April 10, during the phase four of the Assembly elections, five people were killed in two separate incidents in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district. While four people were killed when paramilitary forces opened fire at polling booth number 126 in Amtali, another young man was killed at booth number 85 in Panthauli, also in Sitalkuchi. Following the violence, the Election Commission not only suspended voting in the area, but also banned entry of political leaders for 72 hours in Cooch Behar district that comprises nine Assembly constituencies.

But it is Suvendu Adhikari who has managed to get away with just a light rap on the knuckles. On March 29, the EC had issued a notice to Adhikari acting upon a complaint filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML) member Kavita Krishnan for his speech where he had said, “Election is knocking on the door. You are not giving votes to Begum. If you vote for Begum there will be mini Pakistan”. But, on the night of April 12, the EC issued an order “advising” Adhikari to “desist from using such statement while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force”. The order, however, noted that Adhikari violated Para 2 and 3 of Part 1 ‘General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates’.

Notably, TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was barred from campaigning for 24 hrs starting 8 P.M on April 12 by the EC. This action was taken in response to two complaints; one when she allegedly appealed to Muslims to ensure their vote does not get divided, and the other where she allegedly asked women to gherao (surround) personnel belonging to paramilitary forces if they try to disrupt voting. Interestingly, notice in both cases had been issued on April 8, mere hours apart.

Related:

Battleground Bengal: Campaign ban on Mamata Banerjee parting shot by outgoing CEC?

Sitalkuchi killings: This blood won’t wash easy…

Battleground Bengal: Five killed in Sitalkuchi, EC and Central forces under scanner again

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