The Election Commission has cut short campaigning for the last round of voting in West Bengal after the latest round of poll-related violence in the state. Campaigning in nine Bengal seats will end at 10 pm Thursday, the election commission announced on Wednesday evening.
The decision, the first of its kind, comes a day after violence at BJP president Amit Shah’s roadshow that has triggered a war of words between the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“The election commission is deeply anguished at the vandalism done to the statue of Vidyasagar. It is hoped that the vandals are traced by the state administration,” said a poll panel official in a press conference. “This is probably the first time that ECI has 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 added.
The poll panel has also removed two top Bengal officers: additional director general of police in-charge of CID Rajiv Kumar and the principal home secretary Atri Bhattacharya. Kumar has been told to report to the home ministry in Delhi by tomorrow morning.
The decisions followed marathon meetings at Nirvachan Sadan, the EC headquarters, after senior election officers and observers indicted the Mamata Banerjee government’s handling.