Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC supremo staged a dharna in Kolkata’s Gandhi Murti on Tuesday to protest Election Commission’s 24-hour ban on her campaigning. Notably, the poll panel’s order came after Banerjee’s remarks against central forces and a statement which had alleged religious overtones. EC barred the Trinamool Congress supremo from campaigning from 8 pm on April 12 to 8 pm on April 13.Also Read - West Bengal Polls 2021: Election Commission Bans Mamata Banerjee From Campaigning For 24 Hours

After the ban, Banerjee termed EC’s decision as ‘unconstitutional” and ‘undemocratic’ Taking to Twitter, she wrote, ‘To protest against the undemocratic and unconstitutional decision of the Election Commission of India, I will sit on dharna tomorrow at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata from 12 noon.’

‘Commission hereby condemns such statements potent with serious law and order problems across the state (s) and sternly warns Mamata Banerjee and advises her to desist from using such statements while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force,’ the commission said in its order.

Assembly polls in West Bengal began on March 27, and the remaining four of the eight phases of elections will be held between April 17 and April 29.

TMC leaders slam EC’s decision

Members of the Trinammol Congress joined Banerjee in slamming the poll panel for its decision on her. Coming down heavily on the EC, TMC national vice-president Yashwant Sinha said every institution of democracy has been compromised.

Derek O’Brien, the ruling party’s Rajya Sabha MP, said it was a black day for India’s democracy.

Another party leader, Kunal Ghosh, said the decision to ban Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours is ‘atrocious and smacks of authoritarianism’.

The BJP, however, welcomed the decision and accused TMC of vitiating the poll discourse. ‘The EC did the right thing. The way TMC leaders are instigating the people against the EC and the central forces is unacceptable,’ BJP leader Sourav Sikdar said.

(With PTI inputs)