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ECI's decision to cut short campaigning in WB a 'dark spot on India's democracy': Congress

ANI  |  Politics 

on Thursday termed of India's (ECI) unprecedented move to curtail the campaign period in for the final phase of the polls as a "parting gift to and BJP" and a "dark spot on India's democracy".

Addressing a press conference here, said that the ECI has allowed campaigning in the state till 10 pm today to ensure that the two pre-announced rallies of Modi in Mathurapur and Dum Dum parliamentary constituencies were not affected by the poll body's order.

In the first such action in India's electoral history, the ECI on Wednesday invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to cut short the campaigning for nine seats in West Bengal, citing "an atmosphere of fear and hatred".

The move came in the backdrop of the violence that broke out during a roadshow of in Kolkata on Tuesday. Campaigning was originally scheduled to end at 5 pm on Friday for the nine constituencies that would go to polls on May 19.

"The ECI order curtailing campaigning in by 20 hours and restricting it up to 10 pm today is a dark spot on India's democracy. The ECI has regrettably and completely abdicated its constitutional duty under Article 324 to ensure a level playing field besides negating the due process under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India," Surjewala said.

"This appears to be ECI's parting gift to and BJP in order to ensure that the two pre-announce election rallies of Modi at Mathurapura and Dum Dum in afternoon and evening today are not hit by the EC's order," he said.

Attacking the poll body, the said, "Instead of punishing the goons and hooligans of BJP led by their Amit Shah, the is punishing democracy, per se. It (the order) has created a fear psychosis by admitting ECI's inability to hold free and fair polls. The order of the ECI is an unpardonable betrayal of the Constitution."

Surjewala said, "Every citizen is questioning the independence, impartiality, objectivity and fairness of the ECI today. Has the ECI become a mere helpless pawn in the hands of Modi-Shah duo? As democracy is under attack from the ruling BJP, it is time for the ECI to submit before people of India, instead of being stifled by PM Modi."

He claimed that Congress filed over 11 complaints with against Modi and Shah with the ECI for alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) but no action was taken.

"The filed over 11 complaints with the ECI against PM Modi and Despite clear dissent in ECI ranks and these being a clear cut case of brazen violation of MCC, it meekly surrendered to the whims of Modi and Shah. Has the MCC now become 'Modi Code of Misconduct' to be applied to BJP's political opponents, with total immunity for PM and " Surjewala asked.

The party also said that the appointment of the should be brought under the scanner.

"Time has come to review the appointment of the and it should be brought under the scanner. The appointment of the must not be at the whims of the government to pick their loyalists...There is a need for a fair process for selection of the ECI. After May 23 when our government will come, we will review it," he added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 12:54 IST