EC cuts short campaign period in West Bengal due to violence

NEW DELHI, May 15: The Election Commission on Wednesday curtailed the campaign timing in nine Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal by 20 hours. The campaigning will end at Thursday 10 pm, instead of Friday evening at 6.

The nine constituencies of the violence-struck state are going to polls in the last phase of 2019 general elections on May 19.

"No election campaigning to be held in 9 parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal - Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, South and North Kolkata from 10 pm tomorrow till the conclusion of polls," the EC official said at a press conference in New Delhi.

The official said that it was probably the first time that the Commission invoked Article 324 in this manner, "but it may not be last in cases of repetition of lawlessness and violence which vitiate the conduct of polls in a peaceful manner," he said.

Article 324 of the Constitution dictates "Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in the Election Commission".

The Election Commission said that the decision was taken in the light of incidents of violence being reported in the state.

"The Commission is deeply anguished at the vandalism done to the statue of (Ishwar Chandra) Vidyasagar. It is hoped that the vandals are traced by the state administration," the EC statement said.

The election body also relieved ADG CID Rajiv Kumar and asked him to report to Ministry of Home Affairs by 10 am tomorrow. Principal Secretary, Home and Health Affairs of West Bengal government has also been relieved from his current charge immediately for having interfered in process of conducting polls by directing West Bengal CEO, it said.

The EC’s decision came after the state witnessed unparalleled violence on Tuesday when BJP president Amit Shah took out a road show in the state capital, Kolkata.

Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties, officials said. Furious BJP supporters retaliated and were seen exchanging blows with their TMC rivals outside the college entrance. (Agency)