The Election Commission of India(ECI) on Friday issued notice to West Bengal State chief Mamata Banerjee over her repeated attempts to "berate and vilify" the country's central forces.
In its notice, the ECI has asked Banerjee to explain the statements made by her on the central forces. during a television interview on 28 March and again in a speech on 7 April in the city of Cooch Behar. She has been asked to reply by 10 April.
On 28 March, Banerjee remarked, "Who gave so much power to them that the central police are threatening women without allowing them to cast their votes? I saw the same thing in 2019. I saw the same thing in 2016."
Terming the claims as "completely false, provocative and intemperate statements", the poll panel said her attempts to berate and vilify central paramilitary forces during the electoral process are causing extreme demoralisation amongst the rank and file.
It also said that these forces have made immense contributions to the conducting of free, fair, and peaceful polls.
The notice also mentions that the State chief’s comments had the potential to drive a “wedge of distrust” between the state police and the Central forces.
This is the second Election Commission notice to Banerjee within a week.
On Wednesday, the ECI had issued her a notice over her appeal for votes along communal lines, saying that it was in violation of model code as well as Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act.
For Wednesday's notice, the poll panel had asked her to reply within 48 hours. It was issued following a complaint by the federally ruling Bharatiya Janata Party against her to the Election Commission.
Reacting to the notice on Thursday, Banerjee told the media "The ECI can issue 10 show-cause notices to me, but my reply will be the same. I will always speak against any division in Hindu, Muslim votes. I will always stand against division of voters along religious lines."
Three of the total eight phases of voting in West Bengal have already been completed. Assembly polls are being held for 294 seats of the West Bengal state legislature and vote counting will be held on 2 May.