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ECI halts Bengal Governor from Visiting Lok Sabha Constituency

ECI halts Bengal Governor from Visiting Lok Sabha Constituency

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 17: Known for his outbursts against the ruling Trinamool Congress and political indulgence, the West Bengal governor CV Ananda Bose has been restrained by the Election Commission of India from visiting Cooch Behar just hours before the Lok Sabha elections.

The ECI on Wednesday put a halt to Mr Bose’s proposed tour of Cooch Behar on Thursday and Friday, saying it would be a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) as polling there is scheduled on Friday and the silence period begins Wednesday evening.

West Bengal is facing seven-phase polling in the Lok Sabha elections with Cooch Behar being one of the three constituencies in the state figuring in first phase polling on April 19 where the campaigning ended on Wednesday evening.

The Commission’s order came weeks after the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress wrote to it, accusing the Governor of interference in the election process. “Restrain Mr CV Ananda Bose, the Hon’ble Governor of the State of West Bengal from running a parallel electioneering system of so-called reporting of complaints and supervising the elections under the name and style of “Log Sabha,” the Trinamool had told the Commission in its letter.

“After the EC came to know about the proposed tour to Cooch Behar, where polling is scheduled in the first phase, it advised the Governor’s office against undertaking the trip,” an EC source said. No local programme can be organised for the Governor as the MCC is in place and the poll is scheduled as well, the EC told Bose’s office.

The EC also noted that the district administration and police would be deployed for election management on Thursday and Friday and they would have to be diverted to provide security cover, the source said.

The purpose of the Governor’s visit was not immediately clear. Under Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, no campaigning is allowed in the 48-hour silence period before polling, which brings with it a higher level of enforcement by election authorities, the source said.

The poll panel had issued standing instructions to all District Election Officers and police chiefs to make sure that “all high-profile persons, campaigners, political workers who are not voters of that election area shall exit immediately that election area on beginning of the silence period to ensure free and fair poll process,” according to the EC source.

It is a standard order of the Commission that the moment the silent period begins, VIPs, leaders and political workers who are not voters of the constituency concerned, should exit. This is not only to ensure free and fair election but also to see that there is no extra workload on the police and security forces, who will be in charge of ensuring security for the visiting VIP.

Cooch Behar is one of the 18 seats that were won in the state by the BJP in 2019. A stronghold of the Forward Bloc for over three decades, the seat now appears a BJP bastion. Six of its seven assembly seats had given majority to the BJP in 2021, amid the Trinamool’s sweeping victory. The BJP is now trying to retain the seat, dominated by voters from the Rajbanshi community. It has fielded the union minister of state for home Nishith Paramanick to retain the seat.




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