Mamata Banerjee’s woes are only getting started. In the latest headache for the incumbent Chief Minister, who faces the threat of being ousted by the BJP on May 2, the Election Commission of India has sent a notice to her for her communal remarks. On April 3, while campaigning in Tarakeshwar in Hooghly, Mamata Banerjee said, “I appeal to my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands. Don’t split the minority votes listening to the devil, who is moving around with BJP’s money. He makes many communal statements and triggers clashes between the Hindus and Muslims.”
The remarks were seen as inflammatory and appealing to a particular section of society on religious lines. Soon enough, a BJP delegation, led by Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, lodged a complaint with the EC alleging that Mamata Banerjee was demanding votes on “communal grounds”. Taking cognizance of the complaint, the EC has now sent a notice to Mamata Banerjee giving her 48 hours to reply in her defence, failing which the commission will not pay heed to her version in taking a stern decision on the matter.
“The commission gives you an opportunity to explain your stand in making the statement within 48 hours of receipt of the notice, failing which the commission shall take a decision without further reference to you,” the notice stated.
According to the Hindustan Times, the poll panel said that Mamata’s statement was found to be in violation of the provisions contained in Section 123(3), 3(A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and clauses 2,3,4 of Part 1 of General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates.
Replying to the development, Mamata Banerjee said, “It hardly matters even if 10 show cause notices are issued against me. I am telling everyone to vote unitedly, there will no division. How many complaints have been filed against Narendra Modi? He does Hindu-Muslim every day.”
How many complaints have been registered against those people who called Nandigram's Muslims Pakistanis? Aren't they ashamed? They can't do anything against me. I am with Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians as well as tribals: West CM Mamata Banerjee in Damjur
— ANI (@ANI) April 8, 2021
Earlier, reacting to the communal remarks made by Mamata Banerjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “Dear Didi, recently you said all Muslims should unite, and not allow their votes to be divided. You are saying this means that you are convinced that the Muslim vote bank has also gone out of your hands, the Muslims have also turned away from you.”
The Election Commission will most likely take stern action against Banerjee for her statements, which sought to divide the electorate explicitly on religious lines.