Stopping Bengal campaign is gross over-reaction & an utter failure of EC

Narendra Modi during an election campaign in Uttar Pradesh | PTI

Narendra Modi during an election campaign in Uttar Pradesh | PTI

Tensions mounted yesterday after violence erupted during Shah's roadshow when the statue of iconic social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised in a college named after him.

In an unprecedented move the Election Commission on Wednesday cut short the West Bengal poll campaign by nearly 24 hours before schedule after the violence and desecration of the statue of Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during a clash between Trinamul and BJP workers in Kolkata on Tuesday evening.

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. They are Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary (home and hill affairs) and ADG (CID) Rajeev Kumar, the controversial former Kolkata police commissioner. He also alleged that the Election Commission has been a "mute spectator" in the West Bengal violence.

In awake to the West Bengal violence, the Election Commission will hold a review meeting with the observers and Kolkata chief electoral officers for the last phase of Lok Sabha polls on May 19.

Banerjee, also the state chief minister, said she had never seen this type of EC which is "full of RSS people". "He should report to MHA by 10 am tomorrow".

The Trinamool Congress, led by firebrand politician Mamata Banerjee, who is a contender for prime minister, blamed the violence on the BJP and said it planned to hold a rally on Wednesday.

It said liquor or similar intoxicants can not be served in election going areas in bars, hotels and shops during the ban period.

"There have been no instances of violence in any other place except in West Bengal", Shah said. But the pillars holding up Bengal's intellectual pride are taking the hit. On Tuesday, a clash broke during Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata with BJP and TMC blaming each other for the violence. Jain, who visited the state, said there was a distinct resistance and non-cooperation from the district administration and police with providing a level playing field to all candidates for campaigning and in providing voters a threat-free environment.

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).