EC bars Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning for threatening BPF’s Mohilary - Hindustan Times
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EC bars Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning for threatening BPF’s Mohilary

Apr 02, 2021 11:42 PM IST

Holding him prima facie guilty of violating the model code of conduct, the EC had on Thursday sent a notice to Sarma directing him to “explain his position” by 5 pm on Friday. Sarma denied the allegations against him in his reply, but the EC found it to be unsatisfactory.

The Election Commission on Friday barred Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning in the ongoing assembly polls for 48 hours in connection with a complaint by the Congress for threatening to put Bodoland Peoples’ Party (BPF) chief Hagrama Mohilary behind bars.

On Friday, BJP leader and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took part in five public rallies and one road show before being barred from campaigning. (PTI PHOTO.)
On Friday, BJP leader and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took part in five public rallies and one road show before being barred from campaigning. (PTI PHOTO.)

Since campaigning for the third and final phase of polls in the state ends on Sunday, the order effectively puts an end to the BJP star campaigner taking part in any poll campaign. A total of 40 seats including Jalukbari from where Sarma is contesting will go to polls in the third phase to be held on April 6.

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“The Commission strongly condemns the impugned statements made by Sh. Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP leader and star campaigner,” said the order issued by EC secretary Ajay Kumar Verma.

“The Commission under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and all other powers enabling in this 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 with immediate effect on 02.04.2021 (Friday),” it added.

Holding him prima facie guilty of violating the model code of conduct, the EC had on Thursday sent a notice to Sarma directing him to “explain his position” by 5 pm on Friday.

Though Sarma denied the allegations against him in his reply, the EC found it to be unsatisfactory.

“I have been asked by ECI to stop campaigning for next 48 hours. Therefore all my meetings scheduled for tomorrow stand cancelled,” Sarma tweeted.

One of BJP’s leading campaigners for the Assam polls, Sarma was attending 6-7 meetings daily besides road shows. Between February 25 and March 30, he had attended 71 poll meetings, held road shows, bike and cycle rallies and visited 73 of the total 126 assembly seats in the state.

On Friday, he had taken part in five public rallies and one road show.

“Assam’s forever-in-waiting CM can’t issue some threats to unleash state agencies and bully the BPF,” Assam Congress president Ripun Bora tweeted after the EC order on Friday ridiculing Sarma.

On March 30, Congress had filed a complaint with EC alleging that Sarma had “openly threatened” to send Mohilary to jail by misusing the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Mohilary’s BPF is part of the Congress grand-alliance of seven parties which also includes the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).

Congress had further alleged that Sarma with his threats had also attempted to influence voters not to vote for the Congress-led alliance including BPF.

Following the complaint, the EC obtained the full transcript of Sarma’s statement, which he made to journalists, from the Chief Electoral Officer, Assam and found it to be prima facie violating clauses 2 and 4 of Part 1 of the model code of conduct.

A former chief of the rebel group Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), Mohilary had joined the peace process in 2003 and was chief executive of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which administers four districts, for 17 years till 2020.

His party, BPF, was also part of the BJP-led government in Assam till things soured between them. In this election, BPF has joined the Congress led grand alliance and is contesting from 12 seats.

Reacting to the EC notice, Sarma tweeted on Thursday night—“Received a notice from Election Commission of India upon a complaint by Congress on the basis of a distorted news item from my reply to a media query on the serious issue of fresh militancy activity in BTR (Bodoland Territorial Region). My formal response will unveil some startling facts on the issue.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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