Minutes after the 24-hour ban on canvassing ended, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that efforts are on to stop her from campaigning and asserted she is a street fighter and won't be cowed down by the "intimidation tactics" of the BJP. Banerjee, who earlier in the day had conducted a 3.5-hour long dharna against the EC's decision to prohibit her from campaigning for 24 hours, said the people of the state would take a call on stopping her from campaigning whereas the saffron party leaders can campaign.
"In the fifth phase (of polling on April 17), the silence period is 72 hours, and I could not campaign for 24 hours. So I cannot campaign for 96 hours. The BJP can campaign, and I am not allowed to campaign. I will not say anything, the people of Bengal will take a call on it. They are watching everything," she said while addressing a rally at Barasat.
Asserting that she has been a street fighter and won't be cowed down by such "intimidation tactics" of the saffron camp, the feisty TMC boss said, "Efforts are on by the BJP and its agencies to stop her from campaigning".
"The BJP wants to stop me from campaigning as they have sensed defeat," she said.
The Election Commission had barred Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours from Monday 8 pm for her remarks against the central forces and a statement that had alleged religious overtones.
Banerjee demanded that BJP leaders who are accused of making vitriolic statements be banned from campaigning by EC.
"Why are BJP leaders making hate speeches and vitriolic comments allowed to go scot-free just with a warning? The EC must look into it and I appeal to them to ban them in this election," she said.
Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to influence the elections by campaigning on the days of voting, Banerjee demanded that the EC stop it.
"On every election day, the Prime Minister is coming to Bengal and influencing voters. This has to stop. There is some etiquette of the Prime Minister's post. If needed, I will also stop campaigning on the day of polls. The EC must stop this," she said at another rally at Bidhan Nagar.
Banerjee challenged Union Home Minister Amit Shah on a debate on her developmental work for the politically crucial Matua community in the state.
"He (shah) is telling lies every day. If I fail to prove that I have done a lot of developmental work for the community, I will quit politics. But if you fail to prove your point, you will have to do sit-ups. I will also do sit-ups if I fail to prove my point," she said.
Stating that she will be going to Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar on Wednesday morning, Banerjee said that she would meet the families of those who died in CISF firing there during polling on April 10.
"I also want to meet family members of the BJP worker who was killed on that day by anti-socials. The BJP themselves have killed their workers and are blaming others. I have nothing against BJP workers. I respect them," she said.
Banerjee said this election is to save Bengal's prestige and pride.
(With PTI inputs)