EC slaps showcause, orders constant watch, videography on Trinamool’s Mondal (2nd Lead)

Kolkata, April 15 (IANS) A day after assuring “urgent legal action” against Trinamool Congress’ Birbhum district chief Anubrata Mondal, the Election Commission on Friday struck a twin blow by placing the controversial leader under “constant watch” during the entire West Bengal assembly poll period besides slapping a show cause notice on him for violating the model code of conduct.

“Commission has directed CEO of West Bengal that movement and election-related activities of Mondal, district president of Trinamool Congress’ Birbhum district, during entire election period should be kept under constant watch and shall invariably be videographed with date and time stamping,” an official said.

“The team constituted for this purpose should comprise CPF (central police force) personnel under a local magistrate,” the official said .

The EC also sent a show cause notice to Mondal with regard to his recent comments in a newspaper interview as also in a public meeting and asked him to reply by 5 p.m. on Saturday.

“The commission is prima facie of the opinion that by making the statements, you have violated the provisions of the model code of conduct,” the notice said.

It also reminded Mondal that he was censured on April 13 for making derogatory statements against the candidates of rival political party.

“It is observed that still you are persisting in making statements which are violative of provisions of MCC.

“Now, therefore, the Commission gives you an opportunity to explain your position in making the abovesaid statements, on or before 5 p.m. on April 16, following which the ECI shall take a decision without any further reference to you.”

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Thursday had said the poll panel would take “urgent legal action” following threats by Mondal that the opposition would “vanish” on the day of the polls there (April 17). The opposition parties as also the civil society members had sought Mondal’s arrest to create a conducive atmosphere for holding free and fair polls.

“In the interest of conducting free, fair and peaceful election in Birbhum district, the president of the ruling party Anubrata Mondal must immediately be arrested,” said a memorandum submitted by a group of eminent persons including former Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Ganguly, Akademi award winning poet Sankha Ghosh, human rights activists and leading cultural personalities.

Mondal said he had no idea why the Election Commission has taken the decision.

“I respect the Election Commission. I am yet to get any papers about the order. Law will run its course.”

Mondal said he would step out of his house on Saturday and visit Trinamool offices.

“Campaigning is over. I will step out of my house on Saturday, I will go to our party offices. I don’t know why it has been done. On what grounds has the Election Commission put me under watch?

“I haven’t beaten, killed or abducted anybody. Those who complained against me can only say.”

The opposition parties have for the last three years been blaming Mondal for the political violence in Birbhum district.

On Friday, they welcomed the EC decision.

BJP candidate from Mayureshwar in Birbhum, Locket Chatterjee said it was victory of the people. “This is particularly a triumph for women he has shown disrespect. I hope peace will now prevail on the polling day.”

Left Front chairman Biman Bose said this will improve the situation. “He (Mondal) was crushing all democratic traditions under his feet… But we have to wait and see. He can still use his phone to disturb the poll process.”

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said while it was a welcome development, the EC needs to take more firm steps.

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