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Lok Sabha elections 2019: After Kolkata violence, EC curtails West Bengal campaigning

In first such action in India’s electoral history, the Election Commission on Wednesday ordered campaigning in nine West Bengal constituencies to end at 10 PM on Thursday, a day before its scheduled deadline, in the wake of violence between BJP and TMC workers in Kolkata.

In a hurriedly-convened press conference, Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar said it was for the first time that such an action has been taken using constitutional powers of the poll panel.

The Election Commission (EC) also ordered the removal of Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya and Additional Director General, CID, Rajiv Kumar from their postings in West Bengal.

The EC’s action came a day after parts of Kolkata witnessed wide-spread violence during BJP president Amit Shah’s massive road show in Kolkata. A bust of 19th century Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised during the violence,

“This is for the first time such a measure has been taken using the EC’s constitutional powers. But this is not going to be the last,” Kumar said, referring to curtailment of campaigning period.

The EC also expressed “deep anguish” over the vandalisation of the bust and hope that the culprits will be arrested soon.

The EC invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaigning for the last phase of the election on May 19.

The constituencies where campaigning has been curtailed are — Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin and Kolkata Uttar.

The order on curtailment of the campaigning was signed by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. The vandalisation of Vidyasagar’s bust and clashes during Shah’s road show in Kolkata on Tuesday triggered a fierce blame game between BJP and the Trinamool Congress.

Shah, at a press conference here, alleged that Mamata Banerjee’s TMC was involved in vandalising the bust and unleashing violence during his roadshow in Kolkata on Tuesday as part of a “conspiracy” to blame the BJP.

On its part, the TMC released videos to claim that “BJP goons” damaged the statue of Vidyasagar and said the videos not only establish what the saffron party did, but proved that Shah is a “liar” and a “dhokebaaz” (betrayer).

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