Kolkata: As the Election Commission of India announced the polling dates for four states and a Union Territory, an angry West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the poll panel for the decision to hold voting in eight-phases. Banerjee alleged that it was a part of a "conspiracy" bythe Centre's ruling BJP and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah.
“Has this been done with the advice of Modi and Amit Shah? Has this been done to facilitate their campaigning? So that they can finish Assam and Tamil Nadu before coming to Bengal? This won't help BJP. We will demolish them,” Mamata Banerjee said at a press conference in Kolkata.
Further, Mamata Banerjee alleged that BJP was misusing its authority as the ruling party to influence state polls. "I am the only one woman chief minister in the country... I will win... and then Modi and Shah, you watch the battle in the 2024 general elections. We will fight it and how," Banerjee said, adding, "you will face the music for this blunder."
The TMC chief alleged that the BJP was trying to divide the people on grounds of religion. "They are diving people on lines of Hindu-Muslim. The game is on. We play and win. They are dividing the entire country. But let me tell you, I know Bengal very well," she said.
Polls for the 294-seat Assembly will begin on March 27 with the first phase and will continue over a record 33 days before the results which will be declared on May 2. The voting will take place in eight phases on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. In 2016 state election and in the 2019 national polls West Bengal voted in seven phases. The Election Commission said the reason for more phases was concerns over possible violence.
Meanwhile, the TMC held a meeting of its election committee where the leaders authorised Mamata to take the final call regarding selecting candidates. The decision was taken at a meeting of 12-member election committee of the TMC at her residence in Kalighat on Monday. Several sitting MLAs could be dropped from the candidate list, some reports said citing senior leaders of the TMC who are aware of the developments. The party is planning to nominate more youths, women, and leaders with clean image and acceptability in their area. A party leader, who was present at the meeting, said that elderly MLAs with age above 75 are likely to be dropped.
Earlier, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav met Banerjee and appealed to the people from Bihar domiciled here to vote for TMC. He, however, avoided giving a straightforward answer to questions from journalists about whether the RJD will contest the elections in alliance with the TMC, saying the upcoming polls will be a fight for saving "ideals and values".