Assembly Election LATEST News Updates: The EC on Thursday barred BJP West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh from campaigning for 24 hours from 7 pm over his "highly provocative and inciteful remarks" about the firing incident in Cooch Behar's Sitalkuchi, reports said.
The fifth phase of the eight-phased Assembly election is set to be held on Saturday amid stringent COVID-19 protocols.
The Election Commission of India on Thursday issued a notice to BJP's Sayantanu Basu over his "inflammatory statement" which is an "open threat to Bengal and its people" delivered at a rally in North 24 Parganas' Baranagar. ECI asks him to explain his stand within 24 hours.
West Bengal chief electoral officer (CEO) Aariz Aftab on Wednesday called an all party meeting on 16 April following the Calcutta High Court direction to the CEO and all district magistrates in the state to ensure strict implementation of COVID-19 protocol during campaigning for the remaining four phases of the state election, an EC official said.
All political parties in the state have been asked to send only one representative each for the meeting which will discuss matters related to the campaigning for the last four phases of the poll, he said. There will be discussions on the norms of social distancing and relevant COVID-19 protocol, the official added.
State Additional Director General of police (Law and Order) Jag Mohan and state health secretary NS Nigam will also be present in the meeting, he said.
Campaigning for the fifth phase of the West Bengal assembly elections, in which 45 seats will go to polls on 17 April, ended on Wednesday. The campaigning ended at 6.30 pm. The Election Commission has increased the silence period from 48 to 72 hours in view of the Cooch Behar killings in the fourth phase.
A total of 1.13 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes to decide the fate of 342 candidates, including Siliguri Mayor and Left Front leader Ashok Bhattacharya, state minister Bratya Basu and BJP's Samik Bhattacharya. Polling will be held from 7 am to 6.30 pm at 15,789 polling stations in 16 assembly seats in North 24 Parganas, eight each in Purba Bardhaman and Nadia, seven in Jalpaiguri, five Darjeeling and one in Kalimpong district.
In view of the Cooch Behar killings, in which four people were killed in CISF firing and one man was shot dead by unidentified persons outside a booth in Sitalkuchi, the EC has decided to deploy at least 853 companies of central forces to ensure free and fair voting, an election official said.
The BJP's star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, party chief JP Nadda and actor Mithun Chakraborty had addressed several rallies in the region, attacking the TMC over corruption charges.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee, on the other hand, attacked the Centre over fuel price rise. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also addressed rallies in the state on Saturday.
The BJP led in more assembly seats than the TMC in the region in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The TMC had won 32 seats in the 2016 assembly polls, the Left-Congress alliance 10, while the BJP had drawn a blank.
Votes polled in the eight-phase assembly elections to 294 seats being held from 27 March to 29 April will be counted on 2 May.