The Election Commission today reacted sharply to Trinamool Congress’s allegation that the attack on Mamata Banerjee at Nandigram on Wednesday was the result of the sudden removal of the state’s Director General of Police just 24 hours earlier. The poll panel had failed to protect the Chief Minister despite reports that she may be attacked, the Trinamool had said in a letter to the Election Commission earlier today.
Mamata Banerjee is in hospital with injuries to her chest, shoulder and left leg, which is in a cast with “bony injury” after what the Trinamool alleges was an attack on her soon after filing of nomination for the Bengal election. The Chief Minister was at a crowded market, greeting people standing on the footboard of her car when the door of the vehicle was pushed against her, crushing her leg.
In its memorandum, the Trinamool Congress had said the Election Commission could not shrug off its responsibility in the episode as it has taken over the charge of law and order in poll-bound Bengal. The party also alleged a “deep-rooted conspiracy to take the life” of their chief and linked it to the abrupt removal of top police officers in the state by the Election Commission.
Calling it a “gruesome attack”, the Trinamool said an attempt was made on her life “within 24 hours of the removal of the Bengal police chief” by the Election Commission without the state government being consulted.
The Election Commission, resenting the allegation that it had removed the police chief at the instance of the ruling BJP at the centre, said: “It looks undignified to even respond to the allegations of all this being done at the behest of a particular political party”.
The poll panel said it was “completely incorrect” to suggest that it had taken over the law-and-order machinery in the state in the name of conducting elections and appropriated the whole governance structure.
The allegations virtually amounted to undermining the very foundation and fabric of the Constitution of India, said the powerful election body, asserting that the Commission “does not appropriate or take over the day-to-day governance of any state including West Bengal”.
The Trinamool memorandum was “full of insinuations” that questioned the “very basis of creation and functioning of the Election Commission”, said the panel.
The Election Commission had on Tuesday ordered the removal of Virendra as Director-General of Police and appointed P Nirajnayan in his place, over allegations of poll violence.
“Who will take responsibility for the attack on Mamata Banerjee, when the EC is in charge of administration? EC has to take responsibility. The BJP is asking the EC to remove an official, and they are removing him,” said the Trinamool.
The BJP accused the Chief Minister of faking the attack for sympathy after realising she could lose the election.
“Not one eye witness seems to corroborate Mamata Banerjee’s ‘attack’ version. People of Nandigram are upset and angry at her for blaming them and bringing disrepute,” tweeted Bengal BJP, posting what it said were witness accounts from the spot.