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Assam bypolls: EC issues showcause notice to Himanta Biswa Sarma for violating poll conduct

The notice said that on the basis of English transcripts of his speeches, it was “confirmed” that Sarma had made “promises and announcements” while addressing the gatherings.

By: Express Web Desk | Guwahati |
Updated: October 26, 2021 8:59:39 pm
Himanta Biswa Sarma campaigning in Mariani (Twitter/Himanta Biswa Sarma)

The Election Commission (EC) Monday issued a showcause notice to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly violating the Model Code Of Conduct while campaigning for the upcoming bypolls in the state.

The notice was sent on the basis of two complaints made by Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia and Assam Congress President, Bhupen Kumar Borah, who alleged that Sarma had made several announcements in Bhawanipur, Thowra, and Mariani constituencies in connection to building roads, medical colleges, schools, stadiums while campaigning. They also said that the chief minister had promised financial assistance to self-help groups of tea garden workers.

“It has created an impression among the public that unless they support the ruling party they will be deprived of government benefits. These acts are unbecoming of a chief minister as these are not only against the model code of conduct but also goes against the Constitution,” Saikia noted in his letter to the EC, citing specific examples of the alleged violation.

The EC has asked Sarma to “explain” his position on or before Tuesday, 5 pm. The notice said that on the basis of English transcripts of his speeches, it was “confirmed” that Sarma had made “promises and announcements” while addressing the gatherings.

Reacting to the notice, Sarma told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that the Congress government was opposed to anyone working for the “welfare of the people” of the state. “They have objected to announcements regarding welfare schemes and medical colleges. These are schemes announced in the Budget — so how can they complain about this?” Sarma said. He added that he would follow whatever directions the EC gave him.

“Announcement of new projects or programme or concessions or financial grants in any form or promises thereof or laying of foundation stones, etc., which have the effect of influencing the voters in favour of the party in power is prohibited,” the EC said, adding that it was of the view that by making the statements Sarma had “violated the said provision of Model Code of Conduct”.

Meanwhile an All India Congress Committee (AICC) delegation, which included General Secretary in-charge (Assam) Jitendra Singh and General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the EC calling for “urgent intervention” to lodge an FIR and debar Sarma for engaging in “corrupt practices” and violating the model code of conduct.

Voting for five Assembly constituencies — Gossaigaon, Tamulpur, Bhawanipur, Mariani and Thowra — is scheduled for October 30.

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