West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (R) and former Calcutta High Court judge and BJP candidate Abhijit Gangopadhyay.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (R) and former Calcutta High Court judge and BJP candidate Abhijit Gangopadhyay.Photo | PTI

EC debars ex-judge turned BJP candidate from campaigning for 24 hours for 'sexist' remarks on Mamata

The EC described Gangopadhyay's remark as a "low-level personal attack", asserting that he violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

KOLKATA: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday issued an order barring BJP leader Abhijit Gangopadhyay from campaigning for 24 hours in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections for his “derogatory remarks” against West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee.

Gangopadhyay, who is BJP’s Lok Saha candidate from Tamluk constituency in West Bengal, has been barred from campaigning starting from 5 PM on Tuesday following a complaint from the TMC alleging that he had made “objectionable remarks” against Banerjee during a public meeting held on May 15 in Haldia. The commission had sent a show-cause notice to Gangopadhyay on May 17, to which he responded on Monday.

In the complaint to the ECI, the TMC quoted Gangopadhyay as saying, “Mamata Banerjee, how much are you being sold for? Your rate is 10 lakhs, why? Because you’re getting your makeup done by Keya Seth? Mamata Banerjee, is she even a woman? I keep wondering sometimes.”

The ECI in its order said, “A reply dated May 20 was received from Abhijit Gangopadhyay in response to the Commission’s notice (17th May). The Commission has carefully gone through the contents and averment made in the reply of Gangopadhyay and has again gone through the statement made and is convinced that he has made a low-level personal attack and thus violated the provisions of Model Code of Conduct (MCC).”

It further said, “The Commission finds Abhijit Gangopadhyay’s statement a direct affront on the ‘erosion of status of women in India’. Such a statement is outrightly condemnable when used in respect of any woman, not to speak of a senior political leader and holder of a constitutional position. The Commission 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.”

Noting that he has brought “damage and disrepute” to the state of West Bengal that has a distinguished tradition of respect for women, the ECI order reads: “The Commission hereby strongly censures Abhijit Gangopadhyay for his misconduct and debars him from campaigning for 24 hours starting from 5 pm of 21st May. The Commission also strictly warns Gangopadhyay to remain careful in his public utterances during the currency of MCC.”

Meanwhile, the poll panel also sent a copy of the order to BJP national president JP Nadda and asked him to issue an advisory from his party’s side to all candidates and campaigners to make sure that they do not to commit such type of violation, which are repugnant to the honour and dignity of women.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (R) and former Calcutta High Court judge and BJP candidate Abhijit Gangopadhyay.
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