NEW DELHI: Election Commission restrictions in West Bengal has once again unified the Opposition parties who have come in open support of the State chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Opposition leaders including Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav along with Congress leaders slammed the Election Commission for its decision to cut short the poll campaign duration in West Bengal.
Opposition leaders also questioned the duration of ban on campaigning claiming that it has been done to favour the BJP in its campaign in the State.
“Election Commission has banned campaigning in West Bengal, but from 10 pm today just because the PM has two rallies during the day. When they had to put a ban why not from morning? This is unfair and the EC is acting under pressure," Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said.
Mayawati added, "It is clear that PM Modi, Amit Shah and their leaders are targeting Mamata Banerjee. This is planned targeting. This is a very dangerous and unjust trend and one which doesn't suit the PM of the country."
The EC's decision to call off campaigning in Bengal is against all norms of democratic fair play. I fully support @MamataOfficial ji in her fight to stop the undemocratic march of the two and a half men who have used and abused every institution of our country for their own gain.— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) May 15, 2019
Accusing the Election Commission of going against all norms of democratic fair play, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said, "The EC's decision to call off campaigning in Bengal is against all norms of democratic fair play. I fully support @MamataOfficial ji in her fight to stop the undemocratic march of the two and a half men who have used and abused every institution of our country for their own gain."
"It is disturbing to see prompt action by the ECI on complaint by the BJP and Amit Shah in West Bengal, while conveniently ignoring the complaints of TMC," AP chief minister Chandrababu Naidu tweeted.
Saying that it is high time that the Election Commission acts on complaints by the Opposition, Naidu said, "Giving clean chits to Narendra Modi, taking unjustified prompt action after false complaints by BJP, wilful inaction on genuine complaints by opposition parties; clearly raises doubts about the neutrality, impartiality, and fairness of the Election Commission of India."
CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also questioned the Election Commission's decision. Sitaram Yechury asked if the poll body had set the time to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address two rallies in the state in the afternoon.
"If a ban is intended for 72 hours, why is it starting at 10 pm tomorrow? Is it to allow the two rallies of the PM before that?" Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
Congress also accused the Commission of losing its credibility and independence. Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the order prohibiting campaigning in West Bengal by 20 hours is a "dark spot" on India's democracy and institutions like the Election Commission.
Meanwhile, the Opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu also slammed the poll body for curtailing campaigning in West Bengal by 20 hours. Party chief MK Stalin alleged the EC had a different set of rules for the "ruling party", apparently referring to the BJP, and the opposition.
"Ban on campaign in nine constituencies in #WestBengal. The EC has one set of rules for the Opposition and another for the ruling party. Highly condemnable," he said in a tweet. Stalin said the "BJP follows a typical pattern".
"The BJP follows a typical pattern. Vandalises Periyar statue in Tamil Nadu and (that of) Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in West Bengal," he said.
Ban on campaign in nine constituencies in #WestBengal. The EC has one set of rules for the Opposition and another for the ruling party. Highly condemnable.— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) May 16, 2019
The BJP follows a typical pattern. Vandalises Periyar statue in Tamil Nadu and Iswara Chandra Vidyasagar in West Bengal.
The EC had on Wednesday ordered campaigning in nine West Bengal constituencies to end at 10 pm on Thursday, a day before its scheduled deadline, following violence between BJP and TMC workers in Kolkata during a roadshow by the saffron party chief Amit Shah.
The EC had invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaigning for the last phase of the election on May 19.