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Arun Jaitley backs EC's decision to cut campaigning time in Bengal

Poll panel cutting down campaign period in Bengal shows there is a classic case of breakdown of the constitutional machinery, says the senior BJP leader.

Arun Jaitley backs EC's decision to cut campaigning time in Bengal
File photo

New Delhi: Hailing the Election Commission's decision to end campaigning in West Bengal from 10 pm on Thursday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that the poll panel effectively declared that the state is witnessing anarchy. 

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Taking to his Twitter handle, Jaitley wrote, "A free campaign is not possible and therefore the campaign has to be cut short. This is a classical case of breakdown of the Constitutional Machinery."

"A constitutional authority, the Election Commission of India, has effectively held Bengal to be a state in Anarchy. Repeatedly escalating violence, state supported Vandals, a partisan police and home department are the illustrations the ECI has given," he said. 

The poll body today invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to curtail the campaigning for the last phase of the election on May 19. The EC also ordered the removal of West Bengal's principal secretary (home) and additional director general, CID.

"No election campaigning to be held in nine parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal, namely Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, South and North Kolkata, from 10 pm tomorrow till the conclusion of polls," Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar told media.

The official said this is probably the first time the panel has invoked Article 324 in this manner, adding that it may not be last in cases of repetition of lawlessness and violence which vitiate the conduct of polls in a peaceful manner.

The Commission also announced a ban on the sale of liquor and other intoxicating substances in polling areas of these constituencies till the end of elections.

Campaigning was originally scheduled to conclude at 5 pm on Friday for the nine constituencies that go to polls on Sunday.

Tensions mounted yesterday after violence erupted during Shah`s roadshow when the statue of iconic social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised in a college named after him.

Both BJP and Trinamool Congress accused each other of inciting the violence which broke out during BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata. During the violence, a bust of Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was vandalised. A few bikes and motorcycles were set on fire and several supporters were injured in the clash.