Lucknow: Rallying behind Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati Thursday charged that the West Bengal chief minister is being targeted as part of a conspiracy to divert attention from failures of the Modi government.
It is now clear that under the present Chief Election Commissioner, Lok Sabha polls are not being held in a totally free and fair manner, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister told reporters here.
The Election Commission curtailed campaigning in West Bengal under pressure of central government, she further charged.
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.
Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar had said thta it was for the first time that such an action has been taken using constitutional powers of the poll panel.
The EC's action came after parts of Kolkata witnessed widespread violence during BJP president Amit Shah's massive road show in the city. A bust of 19th century Bengali icon Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised during the violence.
The order said it has been brought to the notice of the Commission that there have been growing incidents of disruption and violence during the political campaigns and processions in West Bengal during the ongoing elections.
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.
Mamata expresses gratitude
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday thanked the leaders of opposition parties, who came out in her support as she protested against the Election Commission's decision to cut short the poll campaign duration in the state.
"Thanks and gratitude to @Mayawati, @yadavakhilesh, @INCIndia, @ncbn and others for expressing solidarity and support to us and the people of #Bengal. EC's biased actions under the directions of the #BJP are a direct attack on democracy. People will give a befitting reply," she tweeted.