The Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday cancelled the business visa of Bangladeshi actor Ferdous Ahmed and issued him a ‘leave India’ notice following complaints that he campaigned for the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.
The action, which came hours after the BJP lodged a written complaint with the state Chief Electoral Office, was taken based on a report from the Bureau of Immigration regarding visa violations by Ahmed. The MHA also blacklisted Ahmed, which could affect his future travel to India.
The MHA had sought a report from the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Kolkata regarding possible visa violations following reports that Ahmed had allegedly campaigned for TMC candidate Kanhaiya Aggarwal in Raiganj constituency of North Bengal. No visa allows a foreign national to participate in political campaigning. Sources said it was being verified if Ahmed had received any commercial benefit for appearing in campaigning.
Read: Who is Ferdous Ahmed
MHA officials said they are in touch with their Bangladeshi counterparts on the issue.
Ahmed was seen allegedly campaigning in Islampur and other places in Raiganj. He was seen in a road show on Sunday and shared the dais with TMC leaders. In a small speech, he was also heard purportedly urging people to vote for the TMC. Opposition parties including the BJP objected to this, and demanded action against the TMC for involving a foreign national in campaigning. The BJP raised the matter with the CEO through a message on WhatsApp, and filed a formal complaint on Tuesday.
After receiving the complaint, the Chief Electoral Office sought information from the Election Commission of India.
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Additional CEO Sanjay Basu had earlier said there was no specific mention about a foreign national participating in political campaign in the election code of conduct. “We have received a complaint. We are in touch with ECI and have sought more information,” said Basu. When asked if a foreign national can campaign for a political party, Basu said, “It is a completely new issue. Hence we have sought details from the ECI on the matter.”
After the BJP raised objection, other Opposition parties also targeted the TMC. “The ECI should take appropriate action,” Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya said. CPM central committee member Rabin Deb said his party had lodged a complaint with the CEO.
The TMC refused to comment on the issue. Aggarwal, for whom Ahmed allegedly campaigned, said, “I am not aware who campaigns for me in the 7 Assembly segments of the constituency.” Bangladesh’s deputy high commission in Kolkata did not respond to calls and messages.