West Bengal polls: EC bars Rahul Sinha from campaigning for 48 hrs, Dilip Ghosh gets notice, light rap for Suvendu Adhikari
This comes after the poll panel had barred Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours for her remarks against central forces and a statement that allegedly had religious overtones
The Election Commission on Tuesday barred BJP leader Rahul Sinha from campaigning for 48 hours and slapped a notice on its West Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh over their "provocative" remarks on the killing of four people in firing by CISF during poll violence in Sitalkuchi, saying such statements could have a serious impact on law and order.
Strongly condemning Sinha's reported remarks that central forces "should have killed eight rather than four people", the EC said he made "highly provocative statements mocking human life and inciting the forces that could have serious law and order implications".
The Commission said it found the remarks of the leaders violative of the model code and various provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the Indian Penal Code.
The high-octane assembly election campaign in the state, where the BJP and the Trinamool Congress have unleashed a no-holds-barred attack against each other, has seen the EC clamping down on leaders of both parties for their objectionable utterances.
On Monday, the poll panel barred West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours for her remarks against central forces and a statement that allegedly had religious overtones.
The EC, in another order, has let off BJP candidate from Nandigram Suvendu Adhikari with a light rap for his remarks that "if people vote for Begum there will be mini Pakistan".
"Now, therefore, the Commission hereby warns Shri Suvendu Adhikari and advises him to desist from using such statement while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force," the order issued on Monday night said.
Adhikari is pitted against Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram where polls were held earlier this month.
The EC took suo motu cognisance of Rahul Sinha's remarks and said it decided to issue the order without giving any notice to him due to the urgency of the matter.
After the Trinamool Congress approached the Commission against Ghosh over his reported remarks that there would be "Sitalkuchi in several places", the EC asked him to respond to its notice making his stand clear on the issue by 10 AM on Wednesday.
The notice said the Commission is of the considered view that Dilip Ghosh has in violation of various clauses of the Model Code of Conduct and provisions of the
Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Indian Penal Code "made statements that are provocative and can seriously incite the emotions".
This could "lead to a breakdown of law and order thereby adversely affecting the election process", the notice said.
The ban on Sinha begins at 12 noon on Tuesday and will remain in force till 12 noon of April 15, the order said.
The order quoted the text of Sinha's speech in which he said, "The central forces have given them a befitting answer. If they do it again they will be dealt again in a befitting manner.
"The central forces should have killed eight persons instead of four in Sitalkuchi. The central forces should be issued a show-cause notice as to why they have killed only four of them."
The order said, "Commission hereby strongly condemns the above statements made by Rahul Sinha, BJP, and sternly warns him to be careful from using such statements while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force," according to the order.
Four men were killed at a booth in the Sitalkuchi assembly constituency in Cooch Behar during the fourth phase polling on April 10 as CISF personnel opened fire after coming under attack from locals who "attempted to snatch their rifles".
The EC notice against Ghosh cited his alleged remarks in which the BJP leader said, "Where did so many naughty boys come from? Those naughty boys were shot at on Monday in Shitalkuchi. These naughty boys will not be there in Bengal.
"This is just the beginning. Those who thought that the central forces' rifles were meant to be just for a show have well understood now the power of cartridges... there will be Shitalkuchi in several places. So be careful".
He also reportedly said that "this will be carried on throughout Bengal. Those who will take the law in their own hands will be given a befitting answer."
The eight-phase assembly polls in West Bengal are being held between March 27 and April 29.
At least 292 observers have been appointed and 256 companies of central forces deployed at 108 counting centres spread across 23 districts of the state
West Bengal saw a three-cornered fight between the Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress-Left-ISF alliance
Assembly polls: Congress debacle foregrounds party's organisational inadequacies, underscores importance of regional satraps
Experts feel unless Congress looks at nurturing strong regional leaders, it will continue to grapple with the regaining traditional ground that it has ceded to its political rivals