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Clamping Art 324 in WB unconstitutional; it's EC gift to Modi,

Attacking the Election Commission of India for curtailing the campaigning for the last phase of polls in West Bengal, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said it is an "unprecedented, unconstitutional and unethical gift" to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah by the poll panel.

Banerjee, also the chief minister, said she had never seen this type of EC which is "biased and full of RSS people".

"There is no such law and order problem in West Bengal that Article 324 can be clamped. It is unprecedented, unconstitutional, unfair, unethical and politically biased decision" against which the state will move the Supreme Court, she said.

"Mr EC has given a gift to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah (by invoking Article 324) in West Bengal for vandalising the statue of Vidyasagar," she claimed at a press conference held at her Kalighat residence.

Kolkata witnessed wide-spread violence during BJP president Amit Shah's massive road show Tuesday. A bust of 19th century Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised during the violence.

No violence had taken place during any other rally of Modi or Shah in the state earlier, she said and asked, "So where is the lawlessness?"

"The ECI is taking all the decisions at the behsest of the BJP. I have never seen this type of ECI ever. I think all the RSS people have been included in the ECI. The ECI is biased," she alleged.

In the first such action in India's electoral history, the EC on Wednesday invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaigning for the last phase of the election on May 19 in the wake of violence between BJP and Trinamool Congress workers in Kolkata on Tuesday.

It ordered that campaigning in nine seats will end at 10 pm on Thursday, a day before its scheduled deadline.

"I have never criticised any constitutional body but today the people of Bengal are under attack, the federal structure is under attack. The great son of this soil is under attack. There is a limit to humiliation and insult," she said.

The chief minister said she and the people of the state will fight this battle boldly.

"They can kill me or send me to jail but I am not afraid. I feel that the people of Bengal will give a suitable reply to you (Modi and Shah) through the ballot," she said.

Banerjee also alleged that Shah was solely responsible for carrying out Tuesday's violence in the city which was a "pre-planned criminal conspiracy".

"You (EC) have not taken any action against the culprits. There was no problem in any of the rallies other than that held by Amit Shah yesterday. Why was he (Shah) not showcaused? The EC is doing whatever the BJP is asking it to do," the TMC chief said.

Questioning the timing of the curtailment of campaign, Banerjee said, "Why hasn't the EC stopped campaigning from this moment? Is it because Modi has two rallies scheduled for tomorrow?"

She said the state government will move the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the EC.

"Of course we will go to the Supreme Court after the elections. Now, the people are supreme and we will go to the people. They know everything," she said.

The poll panel also ordered the removal of Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya and Additional Director General, CID, Rajiv Kumar from their postings in West Bengal.

Banerjee said, "What wrong has the home secretary done? He has only written a letter asking the EC to take help of the local police. Law and order is a state subject."

Describing Rajiv Kumar as a good officer, she said, "Why are you (BJP) scared of Rajeev Kumar? You removed him because he is capturing hawala operators. Both the officers were removed not by the EC, but by Modi and Shah."

Banerjee has been claiming in her poll rallies that the BJP brought crores of rupees through hawala to be distributed among the people to buy votes.

She said till the sixth phase of the polling in West Bengal, only the central forces had opened fired and not the state police.