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In a first, EC cuts short Bengal campaign for Phase 7 by a day

NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: Amid surging threats of violence during the last phase of polls in West Bengal , the Election Commission on Wednesday took the unprecedented step of cutting short the electioneering for nine Lok Sabha constituencies, scheduled to go to polls on Sunday, by a day. It also ordered the removal of ADG (CID) in West Bengal police Rajeev Kumar, considered to be close to CM Mamata Banerjee , who had earlier sat on a dharna against the CBI’s decision to question him in the Saradha scam case. Another officer who stands relieved is West Bengal principal secretary Atri Bhattacharya, who, according to the poll body, had “interfered in the process of conducting the election” by writing a letter to the West Bengal CEO with directions on how to conduct the poll: an action which the EC interpreted as “interference in the process of conducting the elections”. “This is not EC directive, it is a directive from Narendra Modi and Amit Shah ,” she said, adding that the EC had allowed parties to campaign until 10 pm on Thursday because of the two rallies Modi is scheduled to hold in South Parganas earlier in the day. Addressing the media on Wednesday, Jain said while this was probably the first time the EC had invoked Article 324 to put a premature end to campaign, “it may not be the last in cases of repetition of lawlessness and violence which vitiate the conduct of polls in a peaceful and orderly manner”.

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