Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday accused the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of putting pressure on the Election Commission of India (EC) to thwart the polling process in West Bengal. Addressing a public meeting at Asansol in Paschim Bardhaman, Mr. Modi said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was “trying all means to subvert and stop the elections”.
“This time Didi (Ms. Banerjee) and her party are not being allowed to resort to rigging during the election. This is the reason why she is trying all means to subvert and stop the elections,” Mr. Modi said.
The PM’s remarks come at a time when the TMC has urged the EC to merge the remaining three phases of polls in West Bengal due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Polling in the fifth phase of the Assembly elections was underway on Saturday.
During his address, Mr. Modi raised the issue of the 2018 panchayat election in the State, and said that the people of Bengal had not forgotten how their democratic rights had been subverted during the local elections. “In 20,000 seats, which is almost one third of the total seats, TMC candidates won without a contest. Those who had filed their nomination from the Opposition had to take shelter in other States. Nomination papers had to submitted over the Internet on WhatsApp,” he said.
The Prime Minister also referred to the communal riots in Asansol for three years on the occasion of Ram Navami celebrations and blamed the Chief Minister for the violence. “Who stood with rioters, who were indulging in politics of appeasement?” Mr. Modi asked the gathering.
On the deaths at Sitalkuchi in the previous phase of polling, the Prime Minister said that the Chief Minister was indulging in politics over the deaths.
On Friday, the BJP leadership had released audio tapes of a conversation between Ms. Banerjee and the TMC candidate after the Central Armed Forces opened fire resulting in the death of four persons at Jor Patki gram panchayat in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district. The TMC leadership said that there was nothing wrong in the conversation and raised questions over the taping of telephones of TMC leaders.
Mr. Modi, who promised ₹18,000 to every farmer as pending benefits from the PM Kisan scheme for the past three years, alleged that Ms. Banerjee had stood as a wall between West Bengal’s people and Central welfare schemes.
Later in the day, addressing another public meeting at Gangarampur in north Bengal, the Prime Minister said that politics had “crossed dangerous limits of vengeance”.
“Mamata Banerjee is abusing me almost every day as I raise the Trinamool Congress’s track record of corruption,” Mr. Modi said, referring to several remarks directed by the CM towards him in the last week of March and April.
Defending his mode of addressing the Chief Minister as “ Didi-O-Didi”, he said that during the entire election, he had been referring to Ms. Banerjee as “Didi” and was “sometimes saying it twice”.