The Congress came down heavily on the Election Commission on Wednesday after it cut short the campaign period in West Bengal in view of violence, saying it has been a "shameful fall for a once-independent constitutional body". Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the use of Article 324 by the EC is an "unpardonable betrayal of the Constitution" as the poll body has failed to maintain a level-playing field.
"Today is a dark day in the history of democracy. EC's order on W.Bengal negates the due process under Art 14 & 21 and abdicates its Constitutional duty under Art 324 to ensure level playing field. This is an unpardonable betrayal of the Constitution!" he tweeted. He alleged that the poll panel had failed to act on his party's complaints against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
"Over 11 complaints filed with EC against PM Modi & Amit Shah- No action. Violence by BJP and intimidation by Amit Shah-No action. Now, permit Modiji's rallies on 16th & ban all others. This is a shameful fall for a once independent Constitutional Body," he said in another tweet. Polling for nine Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal will take place on May 19.
The sharp reaction came after the poll body took unprecedented steps by invoking Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaign period and transferred key officials in the West Bengal government. The EC Wednesday ordered campaigning in the nine parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal to end at 10 pm on Thursday night, a day before its scheduled deadline. Modi is scheduled to address rallies in Laxmikantapur and Dum Dum in West Bengal.
The EC's decision came in the wake of Tuesday's violence between BJP and TMC workers in Kolkata.
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