03:23 GMT21 April 2021
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    The Indian state of West Bengal is approaching an eight-phase series of elections to its Assembly over five weeks between 27 March and 29 April, with the results scheduled to be declared on 2 May. The state legislature, ruled by Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress party, has 294 seats.

    The Election Commission of India has rebuked West Bengal State's chief Mamata Banerjee who alleged that the country's election authority was in cahoots with the federally ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    The Election Commission of India (ECI) said it was angry at being "put in the dock" with these allegations which Banerjee made at a public rally on Tuesday. She claimed that federal Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah was giving instructions to the Election Commission.

    She also accused the senior BJP member of "hatching a conspiracy" to harass leaders of the Trinamool Congress and implied that the Election Commission (EC) was being influenced by him. Besides, she alleged that the ruling BJP was involved in a conspiracy to kill her since her director of security Vivek Sahay was removed by the EC after she sustained injuries last week.

    She suffered injuries to her foot as her car's door was slammed when she was trying to get inside. Although she claimed the door was pushed deliberately by an unidentified people to harm her physically, the EC ruled out the possibility of an attack after a probe and described the incident as an "accident". 

    Sudeep Jain, Deputy Election Commissioner, said in a letter to Banerjee that the EC "would not like to keep on being put in the dock for alleged collusion with any political entity. However, if [Banerjee] persists in perpetuating this myth for whatever reason, it is unfortunate and it is up to her to work out why she is doing so."

    Banerjee wrote to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on 14 March that the Election Commission should meet representatives of all political parties to hear their grievances.

    In a reply, Deputy Election Commissioner Jain said that Banerjee was trying to belittle the office of the EC by suggesting "that it should meet political parties".

    Banerjee has been on the warpath against the EC as well as the BJP. Her party TMC is fighting an intense battle against the BJP which has emerged as the main opponent in the upcoming West Bengal state legislature elections.

    On Tuesday, Banerjee also threatened to stage a protest outside the poll panel's office if the BJP continues to "interfere" in its functioning.


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