Mamata Banerjee criticises security issue at PM Modi’s Mathurapur rally

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday criticised the security issue at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Mathurapur, insisting that other political parties, including TMC, also need security at the time of campaigning. “We had a meeting yesterday, why was it cancelled? Can only the Prime Minister hold a meeting just because he has security? Don’t we also need security? Don’t we have any rights in democracy?” she told reporters here while responding to reports that the Special Protection Group (SPG) had written a letter to West Bengal DGP over security concerns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally.

“They (EC) curtailed our campaign 24 hours ago and now we have to adjust our meetings,” she added. The SPG had reportedly alleged that Banerjee was planning a “rally ambush”, raising the possibility of clashes between TMC and BJP workers at the Mathurapur rally.

While Modi addressed a rally in Mathurapur and another one in Dum Dum, Banerjee held a public meeting in Mathurapur, which was almost close to the Prime Minister’s rally venue. Later in the day, Banerjee took out a march from Thakurpukur to Taratala in the city. On Tuesday, Banerjee and her TMC supporters held a seven-kilometre-long march from Beliaghata to Shyambazar in north Kolkata.

In an unprecedented action in India’s electoral history, the Election Commission on Wednesday invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to cut short the last phase campaigning in the state by a day after violence and clashes between BJP and TMC workers at BJP president Amit Shah’s roadshow Kolkata on Tuesday. “No election campaigning to be held in nine parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal, namely Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, South and North Kolkata, from 10 pm tomorrow till the conclusion of polls,” Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar had told media.

Campaigning was originally scheduled to end at 5 pm on Friday for the nine constituencies that will go to polls on May 19. During the mayhem, the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised at a college named after him. Since then, both TMC and BJP have been trading accusations against each other.

Elections to 33 seats have taken place in West Bengal in the first six phases of elections. The remaining nine seats will go to polls on May 19 in the last round with the counting set to take place on May 23.