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Assam bypolls: Election Commission warns CM, asks him to ‘exercise restraint’ while campaigning

The EC had sent a notice to Sarma on the basis of two complaints made by Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia and Assam Congress President Bhupen Kumar Borah

By: Express Web Desk | Guwahati |
Updated: October 27, 2021 1:22:28 pm
HimantaIn its notice, the EC had reminded Sarma of provisions of the poll code and its instructions regarding ministers and the party in power. (file photo)

The Election Commission (EC) Wednesday warned Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and asked him to “exercise restraint” while making public utterances during his campaigns for the upcoming bypolls.

“The Commission issues warning to him (Sarma) and cautions him to be more careful and exercise restraint in future and strictly follow the provision of Model Code of Conduct, while making public utterances,” said a notice by EC secretary N T Bhutia.

Monday, the EC had sent a notice to Sarma on the basis of two complaints made by Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia and Assam Congress President Bhupen Kumar Borah for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by making several announcements in connection with building roads, medical colleges, schools and stadiums while campaigning.

They also said that the Chief Minister had promised financial assistance to self-help groups of tea garden workers.

The MCC states that a party in power cannot announce projects nor promise financial assistance that can influence voters after elections are announced.

Following the notice, Sarma wrote to the EC “seeking unconditional apology” in case of any “inadvertent commission/omission of any provision of the Model Code of Conduct”.

However, he also denied allegations on the grounds that all announcements for development and financial assistance were either ongoing projects or had been already announced by the government in the Budget speeches of 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The Commission said it had arrived at its decision after having “carefully considered” the matter and documents submitted, as well as taken note of Sarma’s apology. It also added that no new or fresh announcements as alleged by the complainants had been made by Sarma.

Voting in the five Assembly constituencies — Gossaigaon, Tamulpur, Bhawanipur, Mariani and Thowra — is scheduled for October 30. The counting of votes will be conducted on November 3.

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