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ECI censures BJP nominee and ex-HC judge Abhijit Ganguly, bars him from campaigning for 24 hours

Poll panel describes Ganguly’s remarks as a ‘low level personal attack’ that violated the Model Code of Conduct, ‘a direct affront on the erosion of status of women in India… outrightly condemnable when used in respect of any woman’

Our Bureau Published 21.05.24, 01:48 PM
Mamata Banerjee and Abhijit Gangopadhyay

Mamata Banerjee and Abhijit Gangopadhyay TTO graphics

The Election Commission of India has censured the BJP’s Tamluk nominee Abhijit Ganguly and barred him from campaigning for 24 hours from 5pm Tuesday evening for his disparaging remarks against Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Ganguly, who had stepped down as judge from the Calcutta High Court and joined the BJP to contest the Lok Sabha polls, was warned on Tuesday to be careful with his public utterances while the Model Code of Conduct is in place, the ECI order coming days after the Trinamul Congress lodged a complaint with it on May 16.


The ECI order stated, “The Commission hereby strongly censures Abhijit Gangopadhyay for the above-said misconduct and debars him from campaigning for 24 hours starting from 1700 hours of May 21, 2024. The Commission also strictly warns him to remain careful in his utterances during the currency of Model Code of Conduct.”

The former judge, while addressing a rally in Haldia under the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat on May 15, had said: “Mamata Banerjee tumi koto takay bikri hao? Tomar rate 10 lakh taka keno? Tumi Keya Seth ke diye mukhe make up koro bole? Mamata Banerjee mahila to? Amaar mone proshno jage majhe modhye (Mamata Banerjee how much are you being sold for? Why is your rate Rs 10 lakh? Is it because you get your make up done by Keya Seth? Is Mamata Banerjee even a woman? Sometimes I do wonder).”

On May 17, the EC took cognizance of the complaint lodged by the Trinamul and served a show cause notice to the former high court judge contesting his first Lok Sabha poll. Ganguly had submitted his reply on Monday to the chief electoral officer’s office in Bengal which was forwarded to Delhi’s Nirvachan Sadan.

After going through Ganguly’s statement made in the speech and his reply, the EC concluded that Ganguly had made a “low level personal attack and thus violated the Model Code of Conduct.”

The Commission’s statement said Ganguly’s statement was a “direct affront on the erosion of status of women in India” and such statement is “outrightly condemnable when used in respect of any woman, not to speak of a senior political leader and holder of a constitutional post whom he has targeted.”

The order noted that the Commission was pained that such abominable words came from someone of his “educational and professional background and hence does not remotely deserve any benefit of doubt.”

The ERCI order cited clause (2) of the “general conduct” of the Model Code of Conduct applicable to political parties and candidates: “Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programmes, past record and work. Parties and candidates should refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortions shall be avoided.”

The manual of the Code of Conduct states in para 3.8.2 (ii): “Nobody should indulge in any activities or make any statements that would amount to attack on personal life of any person or statements that maybe malicious or offending decency and morality.”

In its advisory to political parties, issued on March 1 before the election schedule was announced and the Model Code of Conduct came into vogue, the EC had stated: “The political parties and candidates to refrain from any deeds/action/utterances that may be construed as being repugnant to the honour and dignity of women”

On the falling standards of political discourse across the country, the central poll panel had stated, “No aspect of the private life, not connected with the public activities of the of the leaders or the workers of other parties is to be criticized. Low level personal attacks to insult the rivals shall not be made.”

While he was sitting on the judge’s chair in the Calcutta high court Ganguly had issued several orders and directives exposing the alleged corruption of the Trinamul and the Bengal government, especially in the recruitment of teachers and non-teaching staff in state-run and state-sponsored schools and few other cases.

Soon after he stepped down as judge and joined the BJP, Ganguly had claimed that the Trinamul party would collapse as soon as some of its top leadership are found guilty in corruption cases and put behind bars.

Ganguly’s rival from the Trinamul in Tamluk, Debangshu Bhattacharya, said, “A former judge wanted to be the Bhadrolok face of the BJP, but in his first election he had to be censured. Such is BJP’s fate. Everyone in the BJP is a Suvendu Adhikari. Once the open their mouth only garbage spews. Some sooner than others.”

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