After Bengal violence, EC invokes Article 324, orders early end to campaigning in state

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Published: May 16, 2019 3:49:11 AM

The Commission said it was probably the first time that the panel had invoked Article 324 in this manner, “but it may not be last in case of repetition of lawlessness and violence which vitiate the conduct of polls in a peaceful manner”.

Citing incidents of violence in the state, the EC curtailed canvassing in nine Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal by 20 hours. Citing incidents of violence in the state, the EC curtailed canvassing in nine Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal by 20 hours.

In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission of India on Wednesday invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to bring an early end to campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, a day after Kolkata witnessed pitched street battles between BJP workers and TMC student wing members during BJP president Amit Shah’s roadshow in the city.

Citing incidents of violence in the state, the EC curtailed canvassing in nine Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal by 20 hours. It said campaigning will end at 10 pm on Thursday, instead of 6 pm on Friday. The nine constituencies are going to polls in the last and seventh phase on May 19.

The poll panel relieved ADG (CID) Rajiv Kumar and asked him to report to the ministry of home affairs by 10 am on Thursday. Principal secretary, home and health affairs of West Bengal, was also relieved from his current charge immediately for having interfered in the process of conducting polls by directing the West Bengal CEO, the panel said, adding that the chief secretary had been asked to look after the Home Department.

The Commission said it was probably the first time that the panel had invoked Article 324 in this manner, “but it may not be last in case of repetition of lawlessness and violence which vitiate the conduct of polls in a peaceful manner”.

Article 324 of the Constitution states: “Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission: (1) The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice-President held under this Constitution shall be vested in a Commission (referred to in this Constitution as the Election Commission).”

The Commission said “no election campaigning to be held in 9 parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal — Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, South and North Kolkata from 10 pm tomorrow till the conclusion of polls”.

It said the decision was taken in the light of incidents of violence being reported in the state. “The Commission is deeply anguished at the vandalism done to the statue of Vidyasagar. It is hoped that the vandals are traced by the state administration,” the Commission said.

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