Kolkata: Claiming that eight of her party workers were killed by the CPI-M last week, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday virtually held the Election Commission (EC) responsible for it.
The Trinamool Congress supremo said it was the EC which is now looking after law and order in the poll-bound state.
“Now that elections have been declared, police are under the Election Commission. The EC is keeping a watch on police. Now the EC is looking after law and order. In the past seven days, eight Trinamool Congress workers were killed by the CPI-M,” she said.
“Who has given the right to CPI-M to kill? They are murdering every day,” Banerjee said while addressing an election rally in this Maoist belt of West Midnapore district.
Banerjee said her government had stopped political killings.
“I didn’t allow political killings. In the past, the maximum number of political killings used to take place in Bengal. 55,000 people were murdered during the rule of the CPI-M (which spearheaded the Left Front government from 1977 to 2011),” she said.
Banerjee said murder-for-murder and political vengeance had no place in her party, but urged Trinamool workers to be on their guard as they could come under attack during the elections. “Please be on your guard during this period. Don’t be afraid.”
In an obvious reference to the EC machinery, Banerjee said: “Some may feel during the elections, they can threaten, intimidate. Let them. Be with the people, the voters.”
“If somebody from outside tries to boss around, tries to intimidate you, don’t be afraid. They are here today, won’t be there after a few days. But you have to live in your locality in peace,” she said.
She said: “I am not dead. Trinamool is there. As long as I live, I will be with you, and fight for you.”
Accusing the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) of spreading canards alongside the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, she said “because of the elections, they have started to think that we are soft. But they should know that we are so strong that even if a tiger tries to scratch us, it will break its claws”.
Trinamool Congress vice president Mukul Roy, who called on the Chief Electoral Officer in Kolkata during the day to lodge a complaint about the “killings” of his party workers, was more direct in training his guns on the EC.
“We have come here to protest against the murders. We have told the Election Commission to initiate proper steps. Law and order is in your (EC) hands. If a murder or any other untoward incident happens, the responsibility is yours.”
Since the day the elections were declared, Banerjee has been up in arms against the EC.
She has termed the staggered six-phase election schedule spanning seven poll dates a “result of the step-motherly” attitude towards the state.
After the Commission cracked the whip and issued a spate of transfer orders to top police and district administration officials, Mamata wondered whether the poll panel would tap into votes from the electorate “on behalf of the BJP and CPI-M”.