West Bengal

Mamata Banerjee asks whether election dates were announced at the instructions of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a press conference at Kalighat in Kolkata on February 26, 2021. Photo: West Bengal CMO via PTI  

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on February 26 questioned the reasons for thr Election Commission of India decision to hold  the 2021 Assembly polls in the State in eight phases.

“West Bengal has 294 seats, why will elections be held here in eight phases? This is for the benefit of whom? There should be some rationale behind the decision,” Ms. Banerjee said hours after the ECI announced the Assembly poll schedule.

Also read | Trinamool launches new slogan

This is the first time elections in West Bengal are spread over eight phases. The earlier occasion when West Bengal went to polls with highest number of phases was during the 2019 Lok Sabha election when polls were conducted in seven phases. 

The Chief Minister who is also chairperson of Trinamool Congress said these dates are as per the request of the BJP and raised strong objections to elections being held in different phases in the same district.

“In South 24 Parganas since we are strong, elections are held in three phases… Is it at the instructions of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah,” she asked. 

Ms Banerjee also raised questioned on the appointment of police observers and said one of them was deployed in State during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls also. 

The Trinamool Congress said the Election Commission should consider West Bengal “as their own State and not from the eyes of the BJP”.

The Chief Minister however, asserted that even in the 23-day election game, she would defeat the BJP as she is from the grass roots. “I know every nook and corner of West Bengal very well and will foil all conspiracy,” she said.

Also read | Nadda launches ‘Lokkho Sonar Bangla’ campaign

The BJP has welcomed the long-drawn election schedule and said that it was a matter of shame that West Bengal has to have elections in so many phases was because of the history of political violence.

“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems to be mistaking Election Commission of India with the State Election Commission which has been working at whims and fancies of the State government and we have seen the results in local polls,” State BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said. 

Mr. Bhattacharya said while in Opposition, Ms Banerjee has been demanding that Assembly polls in the State should be held in several phases with deployment of central forces.

BJP leader and party observer in the State Kaliash Vijayvargiya also added that all political parties in the Opposition had demanded that polls be spread across several phases. “There is also an urgent need to arrest those with criminal antecedents particularly in bordering areas,” he said.

Comment | Duverger’s curse: Odds are stacked against the Left-Congress alliance in West Bengal

The Left partiers and Congress also welcomed the decision and said adequate central forces should be deployed well in advance to ensure that the polls are held free and fair. Communist Party of India ( Marxist) leader Md. Salim said that eight phase polls reflect law and order situation in the State. He also emphasized that more than increasing number of phases the election machinery should be active on days of the polls to ensure free and fair polls.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 10:59:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/west-bengal-assembly/mamata-banerjee-asks-whether-election-dates-were-announced-as-per-suggestions-of-narendra-modi-and-amit-shah/article33943926.ece

Next Story