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Battleground Bengal: EC bars Dilip Ghosh from campaigning for 24 hours

After letting off other BJP bigwigs like Suvendu Adhikari with a light rap on the wrists for communal statements, perhaps EC’s action against the Bengal BJP chief is a face-saving move

Sabrangindia 16 Apr 2021

Dilip ghosh

The Election Commission (EC) has finally taken some real action against Dilip Ghosh, the motor-mouth president of the West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The serial hate offender has a history of making communally charged and even misogynistic statements.

But he had crossed a line when he openly threatened a repeat of Sitalkuchi firing when he said, “If someone crosses his limits then you have seen what happened in Sitalkuchi. There will be Sitalkuchi in several places.”

What happened in Sitalkuchi?

On April 10, during the phase four of the Assembly elections, five people were killed in two separate incidents in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district. While four people were killed when paramilitary forces opened fire at polling booth number 126 in Amtali, another young man was killed at booth number 85 in Panthauli, also in Sitalkuchi. Following the violence, the Election Commission not only suspended voting in the area, but also banned entry of political leaders for 72 hours in Cooch Behar district that comprises nine Assembly constituencies.

EC’s disproportionate action against TMC

But the EC that has been repeatedly drawing scathing criticism for allegedly not taking strict action against BJP members despite their shocking behaviour, at least not on the scale or degree of its actions against members of the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

The EC had not only issued last minute orders to transfer key policemen and bureaucrats deemed close to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, it had in an unprecedented move barred a sitting chief minister from campaigning for 24 hours. This after issuing two notices to Banerjee in a span on just a few hours on April 8; one for allegedly asking Muslim voters to ensure their vote does not get split and the other for allegedly advising women to gherao (surround) personnel of paramilitary forces if they tried to disrupt voting.

In fact, at one point it appeared that the EC was targeting the TMC, allegedly at the central regime’s behest, and this called into question the institution’s autonomy.

Face-saving measures begin

Then in a series of what appear to be face saving measures, the EC, on April 13, banned BJP leader Rahul Sinha from campaigning for 48 hours for saying, “Not four, eight people should have been shot dead in Sitalkuchi.” At that time, it only issued notice to Dilip Ghosh for his aforementioned open threat. Meanwhile, Mamta Banerjee’s bete noir Suvendu Adhikari was let off the hook for his deeply communal speech where he called Mamata Banerjee “Begum” and told voters that if she were voted back to power, she will “tunr West Bengal into mini-Pakistan”. Thus, it appeared that still, the EC was taking one step forward and two steps backward. That is until now.

The EC’s order against Ghosh has become effective on the evening of April 15 and states that Ghosh made "highly provocative and inciteful remarks which could adversely impact law and order thereby adversely affecting the election process". 

Ghosh had then tried to allegedly justify his shocking statement. According to a National Herald report, Ghosh claimed that as the state party president, it was his solemn duty to stand by his party workers and encourage voters to cast the ballot without fear, and that it was never his intention to make any statement which would be in contravention of the model code, the electoral laws or the Indian Penal Code.
 

Battleground Bengal: EC bars Dilip Ghosh from campaigning for 24 hours

After letting off other BJP bigwigs like Suvendu Adhikari with a light rap on the wrists for communal statements, perhaps EC’s action against the Bengal BJP chief is a face-saving move

Dilip ghosh

The Election Commission (EC) has finally taken some real action against Dilip Ghosh, the motor-mouth president of the West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The serial hate offender has a history of making communally charged and even misogynistic statements.

But he had crossed a line when he openly threatened a repeat of Sitalkuchi firing when he said, “If someone crosses his limits then you have seen what happened in Sitalkuchi. There will be Sitalkuchi in several places.”

What happened in Sitalkuchi?

On April 10, during the phase four of the Assembly elections, five people were killed in two separate incidents in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district. While four people were killed when paramilitary forces opened fire at polling booth number 126 in Amtali, another young man was killed at booth number 85 in Panthauli, also in Sitalkuchi. Following the violence, the Election Commission not only suspended voting in the area, but also banned entry of political leaders for 72 hours in Cooch Behar district that comprises nine Assembly constituencies.

EC’s disproportionate action against TMC

But the EC that has been repeatedly drawing scathing criticism for allegedly not taking strict action against BJP members despite their shocking behaviour, at least not on the scale or degree of its actions against members of the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

The EC had not only issued last minute orders to transfer key policemen and bureaucrats deemed close to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, it had in an unprecedented move barred a sitting chief minister from campaigning for 24 hours. This after issuing two notices to Banerjee in a span on just a few hours on April 8; one for allegedly asking Muslim voters to ensure their vote does not get split and the other for allegedly advising women to gherao (surround) personnel of paramilitary forces if they tried to disrupt voting.

In fact, at one point it appeared that the EC was targeting the TMC, allegedly at the central regime’s behest, and this called into question the institution’s autonomy.

Face-saving measures begin

Then in a series of what appear to be face saving measures, the EC, on April 13, banned BJP leader Rahul Sinha from campaigning for 48 hours for saying, “Not four, eight people should have been shot dead in Sitalkuchi.” At that time, it only issued notice to Dilip Ghosh for his aforementioned open threat. Meanwhile, Mamta Banerjee’s bete noir Suvendu Adhikari was let off the hook for his deeply communal speech where he called Mamata Banerjee “Begum” and told voters that if she were voted back to power, she will “tunr West Bengal into mini-Pakistan”. Thus, it appeared that still, the EC was taking one step forward and two steps backward. That is until now.

The EC’s order against Ghosh has become effective on the evening of April 15 and states that Ghosh made "highly provocative and inciteful remarks which could adversely impact law and order thereby adversely affecting the election process". 

Ghosh had then tried to allegedly justify his shocking statement. According to a National Herald report, Ghosh claimed that as the state party president, it was his solemn duty to stand by his party workers and encourage voters to cast the ballot without fear, and that it was never his intention to make any statement which would be in contravention of the model code, the electoral laws or the Indian Penal Code.
 

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