With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having approached the Election Commission of India (ECI) to urge it to declare West Bengal as ‘super-sensitive’ ahead of Lok Sabha polls, the Trinamool Congress has planned a retaliatory 48 hours dharna at Dharamtala’s Rani Rashmoni Avenue.  The BJP had expressed apprehensions that the Trinamool Congress will not allow free and fair election in the state.

Calling this an ‘insult’ to West Bengal, the women’s wing of the Trinamool Congress under instructions from the chief minister Mamata Banerjee has started on the ‘dharna’. Speaking to the media, Trinamool leader Chandrima Bhattacharya leading the agitation has stated that the BJP has launched this slander campaign which is an insult to the state as it senses its loss in the coming elections. Even the ECI is being used by the BJP for political gains, she alleged.

BJP leaders like law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and health minister JP Nadda among others met the ECI on Wednesday to communicate their demand. Ravi Shankar Prasad had stated that ‘around 100 murders took place in West Bengal during the panchayat elections’ and therefore the deployment of central forces in all polling booths was necessary to ensure free and fair elections in Bengal as it has a history of poll-related violence.

The party had also requested the presence of central observers along with a media observer, in West Bengal for free and fair polls. Mamata Banerjee has in the meanwhile pointed out that of the number of political activists killed during the Panchayat polls, 99 per cent were Trinamool workers.

In the past, the Trinamool Congress has also objected to the use of central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department by the BJP government to further its own political goals while stifling the voices of the Opposition.

Given that 41 per cent of Trinamool Congress candidates in West Bengal this time are women, many believe that the chief minister’s decision to ask the women leaders of the party to carry out the dharna in protest against the BJP “highhandedness” has been a clever move.

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