Mamata Banerjee paints while on dharna in Kolkata, protests EC banning her from campaigning for 24 hours

She sat alone, without party her flags and/or symbol.

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday started a dharna in Kolkata to protest the Election Commission of India banning her from campaigning for 24 hours.

Banerjee sat on the dharna at Gandhi Mutri, Kolkata (at the foot of the Gandhi statue in Kolkata’s Esplanade). Her party has sought permission for organising the dharna from the Army, under whose jurisdiction the area falls. She sat there painting, and has not allowed anyone to gather around her. Her party leaders were also asked to not go near her with party flags and/or symbols. She sat there alone, painting.

On Monday evening, Banerjee had announced her decision to protest the Election Commission banning her from campaigning for 24 hours that came into effect at 8 PM Monday and will continue till 8 PM tonight. On Monday evening, after the letter from the EC’s ban was sent, Banerjee took to Twitter to say: “To protest against the undemocratic and unconstitutional decision of the Election Commission of India, I will sit on dharna tomorrow at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata from 12 noon.”

Banerjee was banned by the EC from campaigning in the state for 24 hours for “violating” election rules. She has been accused of violating the EC’s model code of conduct with her remarks on Muslim votes and her comments allegedly telling people to protest against Central forces who are in the state for the ongoing Assembly polls.

The order banning her from campaigning for 24 hours has come on the last day when outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora was in charge of the poll body. Sushil Chandra has taken over as CEC  from Tuesday .

Banerjee was served two notices last week. The EC had asked her to explain her comments at campaign rallies of March 28 and April 7, in which the Trinamool chief allegedly accused the Central forces of intimidating voters and urged women to “gherao” them. Earlier, the EC had asked her to explain her comments on what the poll body deemed as “openly demanding votes on communal grounds” while campaigning in Hooghly district on April 3.

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