A Trinamool Congress (TMC) delegation comprising five MPs met the chief election commissioner on Monday to register a protest against the arrest of party spokesperson Saket Gokhale by Gujarat Police.
“The delegation met the CEC over the harassment and torture of our national spokesman. We said that Gokhale was arrested once in Ahmedabad and again a case was lodged against him in Morbi while the model code of conduct was still in force,” Saugata Roy, TMC MP, told mediapersons in the national Capital.
The TMC delegation also included Derek O’Brien, Kalyan Banerjee, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray and Mausam Noor.
“We have strongly registered our protest against this and the CEC promised us that he would seek a report and take necessary action,” Roy said.
The TMC national spokesperson Gokhale was arrested twice in three days last week. He was granted bail.
“We also said that he has been wrongly charged under Section 125 (of the Representation of the People Act) which is not attracted by what he tweeted. So, this is a case of harassment,” he added.
Gokhale was first arrested on December 6 over the Morbi bridge collapse tweet pertaining to an alleged ‘fake news’ report about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the accident site.
He was sent to two-day judicial custody before being granted bail on December 8. He was arrested again on Thursday.
Roy also questioned why the same sections were not applied when chief minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma reportedly “preached and fanned communalism and hatred towards religious minorities while campaigning in the recently held assembly election in Gujarat” or against Paresh Rawal, former MP of the BJP, who “preached hatred against the Bengali community while campaigning in the run-up of Gujarat assembly election”.
Hitting out at the TMC government, BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya called them intolerant.
“The TMC-government in West Bengal is the most intolerant among all. They don’t have any moral right. People have not forgotten Ambikesh Mahapatra. They want a license to spread slanders and propaganda against the Prime Minister,” said Bhattacharya.
Mahapatra, a Jadavpur University professor, was arrested in 2012 by the Mamata Banerjee government after he forwarded an email containing a cartoon spoofing Banerjee.