Guwahati: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has barred senior BJP leader and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning for 48 hours citing violation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC). The action comes on a Congress complaint over Sarma’s remarks against Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) Chief Hagrama Mohilary, threatening him with an NIA case and sending him to jail.
In its order on April 2, the ECI cited Sarma’s statement made on March 28 and said it condemns his statement. “The Commission, under Article 324 of the constitution of India and all other powers enabling in his behalf, bars him from holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows, interviews and public utterances in media (electronic, print, social media) etc. in connection with ongoing elections for 48 hours from immediate effect,” the order noted.
The ECI action comes on an eventful day when the poll body came under attack from the opposition which demanded answers and action over the April 1 where polling officials were found carrying voting machines in the car belonging to the family member of BJP candidate in Assam’s Karimganj.
The ECI said it has sought a report from the special observer even as it ordered a repoll at the said booth and suspended four officials including the presiding officer.
Meanwhile, Sarma said he is cancelling all his engagements for April 3, in light of the EC order. He is again contesting the polls from Jalukbari constituency which will vote on April 6 in the third phase. A total of 86 out of 126 Assam Assembly constituencies have already voted in the first two phases.
Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to address a rally in Sualkuchi which falls in Jalukbari constituency on April 4.
The ECI actions comes after a Congress complaint which sought action against Sarma over his remarks against Mohilary.
In a memorandum to the ECI, the Congress alleged that Sarma “foreseeing the looming defeat of his party, has made blatant, scandalous and intimidating statements on 29.03.2021 wherein he has openly threatened his opponent party, INC alliance partner & Bodoland People’s Front Chairperson Shri Hagrama Mohilary of sending him to jail by misusing the Central Agency – NIA which is under the direct administrative control of the BJP led Central Government.”
Acting on the Congress’ complaint, ECI had issued a notice to Sarma on April 1 noting a prima facie violation of the MCC.
Mohilary’s BPF was part of the BJP-led alliance which came to power in Assam from 2016. The two allies had a fallout after the BJP decided to go with the United People’s Party Liberal led by former student leader Promod Boro.