The Election Commission has banned Assam BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning in the elections for the next 48 hours. The EC decision came after the Congress party had filed a petition with the poll panel seeking a ban on him for allegedly threatening Hagrama Mohilary, leader of Congress ally Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).
The Election Commission found that Himanta Biswa Sarma violated the model code of conduct by his comments on Mohilary, and banned him from holding any public meeting, procession, rally, road show etc for the next 48 hours. He will also be not able to give any interviews and make any comments on any electronic, print and social media, as per the EC order. The Commission also said that it strongly condemns the impugned statements made by Sarma.
On March 30, the Congress had moved the Election Commission of India seeking registration of FIR and putting a blanket ban on Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning for the Assam Assembly elections. The Congress had sought action against the senior Assam minister and NEDA convenor for allegedly threatening BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary of “sending him to jail” during campaigning for BJP for the Assam Assembly elections.
“He has openly threatened his opponent party, INC alliance partner Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) chairperson 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”, the Congress petition had said.
After receiving the petition, yesterday the EC had asked Sarma to submit explanation within 2nd April. Himanta Biswa Sarma submitted his response today accordingly, but EC was not satisfied with it, and imposed the ban.
The petition was filed after Himanta Biswa Sarma had alleged during an interaction with media that Hagrama Mohilary has links with terrorists. He had said that if it is proven that Hagrama Mohilary is collaborating with terrorist M Batha for return of extremism in the Bodoland area, he will be sent to jail. “If he does extremism with Batha, he will go to jail, that is straight talk. If Hagrama encourages Batha, he will go to jail, already there are of proofs”, he had said. Sarma had also said that a recent case of recovery of arms from a vehicle in the region will be handed over to NIA after the elections.
Saying that he is “not afraid” of either Batha or Hagrama, Sarma had said that violence will not be encouraged in the Bodoland region again. “There will be no bombings and there will be no guns in the BTR. Let me clarify that,” he had said. Talking about the Batha trying to revive terrorism, he had said, “The NIA will enquire everything and things will become clearer in the due course of time. Only someone who is having a rough time will encourage such acts after losing an election.”
The ban by EC effectively means that Himanta Biswa Sarma will not be able to campaign for the ongoing elections again. The last phase of the election in Assam will took place on 6th April, which means the last date for campaigning for the elections in those constituencies will be 4th April. This means, when the ban on Sarma will end, the campaigning for the third and last phase will also end.
Sarma is the biggest campaigner for BJP in the elections in Assam, and every day he addresses more than half a dozen election rallies, apart from participating in several roadshows every day. He had a packed schedule for the next two days for the third phase of polling, which will have to be scrapped now.
This also means that Himanta Bisaw Sarma will not be able to campaign for himself at the Jalukbari constituency. He has not campaigned for a single day in his constituency so far. However, party workers and his wife are running the campaign on his behalf. In the 2016 elections too, he had campaigned in Jalukbari only on the last day of the campaigning, and he had won the seat comfortably.