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Mamata, PM Modi trade barbs as bitter poll campaign ends in Bengal


New Delhi, May 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday trained gun at each other over the destruction of the Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar statue in Kolkata during violence that broke out during Amit Sha's roadshow on Tuesday.

These rallies were held just before the Election Commission's ban on campaigning came into effect from 10 pm, 20 hours ahead of schedule.

File photo of Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee

While Modi said the Trinamool Congress is trying "to erase evidence on the attack," Banerjee targeted him for offering to raise a "giant statue" of Vidyasagar in the north Kolkata college where it was vandalised.

The prime minister, on the other hand, claimed that Banerjee was "frustrated over her imminent defeat" and had threatened to put him behind bars after the general elections. Addressing a rally in Mathurapur in the evening, Modi claimed that the West Bengal Police, in connivance with the state government, was trying to wipe out evidence of statue desecration in Kolkata.

The Chief Minister also claimed that Bengal is "under attack" and did not spare the Election Commission either.

"Election Commission has sold themselves out to the BJP," said Ms Banerjee who is upset by ECI to cut short the campaign for the last phase of polls by 17 hours.

When Mamata asked crowd to chant 'chowkida r chor hai'

Earlier in the day Banerjee thanked Congress party and leaders of other parties including, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati for "expressing solidarity and support against biased actions under the directions of the BJP".

Several Opposition leaders extended their support to the Trinamool supremo and also accused the poll watchdog of being "biased". Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati charged that Mamata was being targeted as part of a conspiracy to divert attention from the failures of the Modi government.

Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also came out in support of his Bengal counterpart and wondered why the poll panel ordered campaign be stopped in Bengal at 10 pm today after Modi's rallies in the state.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the saffron party's attempt to "polarise" the electorate in the state will come to nothing as the TMC will sweep the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Three opposition parties, including the Congress, on Thursday approached the Election Commission over its order curtailing the time period for campaigning in West Bengal, terming it "violative" of the doctrine of level-playing field and urged the poll body to give at least half a day more for electioneering.

In a first in the country, campaigning for nine Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal going to polls in the last phase came to an end at 10 pm on Thursday, 20 hours before the scheduled time, according to Election Commission orders.

The Election Commission had invoked Article 324 in view of the violent incidents during campaigning in West Bengal.

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