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Former HC Judge Barred from Campaigning for 24 Hours for “Low Level Personal Attack”

Former HC Judge Barred from Campaigning for 24 Hours for “Low Level Personal Attack”

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 21: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday censured former Calcutta High Court judge and BJP candidate from Tamluk in West Bengal Abhijit Gangopadhyay barring him from campaigning for 24 hours from 5 p.m. on Tuesday for his objectionable remarks against the chief minister and the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.

The ECI said it had found guilty Mr Gangopadhyay of violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by making a “low-level personal attack” on Ms Banerjee. The poll body debarred Gangopadhyay from campaigning for 24 hours and also strictly warned him to remain careful in his public utterances during the period of the MCC in force.

At a public meeting at Haldia on May 15, Gangopadhyay said in Bengali, “’Mamata Banerjee, how much are you being sold for? Your rate is Rs10 lakh, why? Because you’re getting your make-up done by Keya Seth? Mamata Banerjee, is she even a woman? I keep wondering sometimes.”

The ECI said it was convinced that Gangopadhyay made a “low-level personal attack and thus violated the provisions of MCC. “The Commission…finds Shri Abhijit Gangopadhyay’s statement a direct affront on the “erosion of status of women in India:” such statement that is outrightly condemnable when used in respect of any woman, not to speak of a senior political leader and holder of a constitutional position.”

“The Commission painfully notes that fact that such abominable words have come from someone of Shri Abhijit Gangopadhyay’s educational and professional background and hence does not remotely deserve any benefit of doubt,” it added.

The ECI also sent a copy of the order to BJP national president JP Nadda asking him to issue an advisory to all BJP candidates and campaigners of the party to make sure “this lapse does not recur during the campaign period.”

Acting on a complaint by the TMC against Gangopadhyay for his remarks against Banerjee, the ECI had sent a show cause notice to the former judge of Calcutta high court. The Election Commission had sought a response from Gangopadhyay by 5 PM on May 20.

In its notice, the EC said Gangopadhyay’s comment has been found to be “beyond dignity in every sense of term” and “in bad taste”, and prima facie violative of the provisions of the MCC and its advisory to political parties. Voting in Gangopadhyay’s constituency Tamluk is scheduled to be held on May 25.

Meanwhile, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday asserted that the response of the people towards his party and INDIA bloc has changed significantly and there is a big undercurrent in favour of the alliance which will be able to stop the BJP from getting the majority numbers in Lok Sabha polls. Mr Kharge also demanded that Mr Modi should quit public life for indulging in Hindu-Muslim rhetoric everyday and “fostering hatred” in society.

Mr Modi on the other hand asserted that people have decided they want a strong BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, saying the wave in its support was “getting stronger and stronger,” while the Union Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that in the first five phase of polling itself, the BJP and the NDA had captured at least 310 seats and was firmly marching towards “400 Paar.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was heartbroken over the plight of women in Sandeshkhali but asserted that the BJP should not have played with the dignity of women in the trouble-torn area as the “saffron camp’s conspiracy now stands exposed.”

While addressing a rally in Basirhat which include infamous Sandeshkhali, Ms Banerjee slammed Mr Modi for talking to Sandeshkhali protester and BJP candidate Rekha Patra over the phone, alleging that the country has the “worst track record in terms of women’s safety and security under the BJP rule.”

“I am sorry for whatever has happened to the women of Sandeshkhali and the way they have been humiliated. I express my sadness from the core of my heart. Nobody should dare to play with the dignity of women,” Ms Banerjee said.



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