Mamata Banerjee was asked today to explain comments during the Bengal campaign allegedly telling people to "gherao" central security forces, in a notice by the Election Commission, the second in two days.
The Bengal Chief Minister, 66, was asked to reply by 11 am tomorrow on her speech, which, the election body said, violated several sections of the model code as well as the law. Bengal votes in the fourth round of eight-phase elections tomorrow.
The Election Commission cited her speeches on March 28 and April 7 (Wednesday), in which Ms Banerjee allegedly accused central forces of intimidating voters and urged women to hit back or surround central forces.
"Who gave so much power to them that the central police are threatening the women without allowing them to cast their votes? I saw the same thing in 2019, I saw the same thing in 2016," she said in the March rally.
"I know under whose instruction they beat up and how they beat up. It is your duty to save the family of the people. If any of our mothers and sisters suffer a single strike with the stick attack them with ladle, spuds and knife. I am telling you. It is the right of women. And if any of our mothers and sisters are denied entry in the voting compartment all of you come out and revolt."
The notice to Ms Banerjee also referred to her speech at Cooch Behar in which she made what the Election Commission said were "highly objectionable remarks" on the Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF).
"If the CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) create disturbances, I tell you ladies, a group of you go and restrain (gherao) them while another group will go to cast their votes. Don't waste your vote. If you engage yourself only in restraining them they will be happy that you did not cast your vote. This is their plan. This is the plan of the BJP. And your plan will be that you will not be scared if they try to intimidate you coming to your village on the one hand, and on the other you just talk to them. Talking to them will be tantamount to restraining them. You don't have to gherao them literally," the Chief Minister is quoted as saying.
The Election Commission said the "false, provocative and intemperate statements" attempted to "vilify" central forces and had caused "extreme demoralisation" in their ranks.
According to the poll body, the Chief Minister was "inciting women voters to attack the personnel" of central forces. "It is extremely unfortunate that political battles are thus sought to be fought in this manner instead of being fought in the campaign trail".
The Election Commission also accused Ms Banerjee of "sparing no effort to ensure that a deep wedge and rift" was created between the Bengal police and central forces, which, it said, was bound to have "serious consequential damage" even after the elections.
In its previous notice on Wednesday, the Election Commission had asked the Bengal Chief Minister to explain remarks "openly demanding votes on communal grounds" while campaigning in Hooghly district on April 3.
"... I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands... don't divide the minority votes after listening to the devil... who had taken money from the BJP... He passes many communal statements and initiates clashes between Hindus and Muslims... comrades of the CPM and BIP is roaming around with money given by BJP to divide the minority votes," Ms Banerjee had said.
Reacting to that notice, she said a day later: "You (EC) can issue 10 show-cause notices to me, but my reply will be the same. I will always speak against any division in Hindu, Muslim votes. I will always stand against division of voters along religious lines."
She added: "Why no complaint has been filed against Narendra Modi, who every day talks about Hindu and Muslim (vote banks)? How many complaints have been filed against those who had uttered the word ''mini-Pakistan'' during the Nandigram campaigns?"
Ms Banerjee has had a running feud with the Election Commission in this campaign.
Last week, she was warned over a "factually incorrect" complaint over voting in Nandigram, where she faces her aide-turned-BJP rival Suvendu Adhikari.
The results of the Bengal election will be declared May 2.