Mamata Banerjee today said she did not try to incite or influence voters against central security forces with her comments at an election rally. The West Bengal Chief Minister was responding to a notice by the Election Commission, seeking her explanation on her comments during the campaign, allegedly telling people to "gherao" central security forces.
"There has been no effort to incite or influence the electorate against CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces). It is clear I haven't violated the Model Code of Conduct," Ms Banerjee said in her reply to the Election Commission.
The election body said had said her speech violated several sections of the model code as well as the law. Bengal is voting today in the fourth round of the eight-phase election. Today's polling saw violence in Cooch Behar, where four people were shot dead in a clash with security forces. The incident triggered another political row between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP.
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).
According to the poll body, the Chief Minister was "inciting women voters to attack the personnel" of central forces.
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 an earlier notice, issued 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.
(With inputs from ANI)