Election Commission censures former judge-turned-BJP candidate, bars campaign for 24 hours

Poll body bars him from campaigning for 24 hours; Abhijit Gangopadhyay says he will approach the courts if EC does not reconsider its decision

Updated - May 22, 2024 02:07 am IST

Published - May 21, 2024 02:31 pm IST - New Delhi/Kolkata

Former judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay. File

Former judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Election Commission of India (EC) on Tuesday censured former Calcutta High Court judge and BJP candidate from Tamluk in West Bengal Abhijit Gangopadhyay for his remarks against Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. He has been barred from campaigning for 24 hours beginning 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

In its order, the commission also asked BJP president J.P. Nadda to issue an advisory on behalf of the party to all candidates and campaigners to make sure that such a lapse does not recur during the campaign period.

The poll body had issued a showcause notice to the former Calcutta High Court judge based on a complaint by the Trinamool Congress for his remarks against Ms. Banerjee while addressing a public meeting held on May 15 in Haldia.

In its notice, the EC had said Mr. Gangopadhyay’s comment was found to be “beyond dignity in every sense of term” and “in bad taste”, and prima facie violative of the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and its advisory to political parties. It described the remark as a “low-level personal attack”. It asked him to remain careful in his public utterances during the campaign.

The poll body stated that it “painfully notes the fact that such abominable words have come from someone of Gangopadhyay’s educational and professional background and hence does not remotely deserve any benefit of doubt.”

The former judge said he had written to the poll body requesting it to reconsider its decision, failing which he would approach the courts to quash the notice.

The Election Commission has defamed me: Gangopadhyay

“The Election Commission has defamed me with this order. I take this very seriously,” Mr. Gangopadhyay told the media on Tuesday. “I will, under no circumstances, accept the defamation this EC order has caused me,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said the EC should issue an order against Ms. Banerjee first for her alleged remarks against the women of Sandeshkhali, which he claimed provoked Mr. Gangopadhyay’s comments against the CM. “The same action should be taken by the Election Commission against Mamata Banerjee and her nephew (Abhishek Banerjee),” Mr. Adhikari said.

Although the Trinamool Congress has not commented on the EC’s order yet, it had earlier protested vehemently against Mr. Gangopadhyay’s comments. “Disrespecting women has become part of Modi’s guarantee,” senior party leader Santanu Sen had said.

The Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency in Purba Medinipur district, where Mr. Gangopadhyay is in the fray on a BJP ticket, goes to the polls on May 25 in the sixth phase of the ongoing parliamentary election. Mr. Gangopadhyay is contesting against Debangshu Bhattacharya of the Trinamool Congress, and Sayan Banerjee of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). 

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