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West Bengal:

The Election Commission of India on Friday banned West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mahadev Sarkar from campaigning for the next 48 hours on the issue of making sexist remarks at Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Moitra. The ban came into force at 4 pm on Friday as per PTI report.

Moitra had been campaigning for the Krishna Nagar Lok Sabha Constituency, whereas Mahadev Sarkar is the BJP President for the Nadia district. Moitra alleged that on April 23rd, Sarkar passed a sexist comment against her in the presence of another party candidate, Kalyan Choubey. She also mentioned that the Election Commission had failed to take any action against him.

The EC order came a day after the Supreme Court had directed the poll panel to take immediate action against the BJP leader. As Moitra had moved the apex court on the issue, senior advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared on behalf of Moitra, appealed to the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, stating that a mandamus should be issued against Sarkar given that only 48 hours of campaigning were left.

As Scroll reports, Sarkar did not deny that he made the remarks in his reply but claimed that it was not covered under the Model Code of Conduct. “Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work,” said the letter issued by the Election Commission. It also mentioned that “Parties and Candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties.”

The 2019 General Elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23. Polling is being held in West Bengal in all seven phases.

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