A day after the Election Commission had banned BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning for 48 hours, today the period has been reduced to 24 hours. The decision to relax the ban came after Dr Sarma tendered an unconditional apology for his comments on BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary that had led to the ban.
A letter issued to Himanta Biswa Sarma by the Election Commission informed him about the decision. The letter said, “In your representation, you have, interalia, requested to “accept my sincere regret and assurance of abiding MCC in future, and. be further pleased to reduce the period of debarment from election campaign from 48 hours to 24 hours”.
In response to the request, the EC said, “The Commission, having considered your aforesaid unconditional apology and assurance/undertaking, in the above mentioned representation, has decided to modify its Order dated 2n April, 2021 and reduce the period of debarment from election campaign from 48 hours to 24 hours to the effect that permission may be granted for holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows, etc., by the concerned district administration authorities, where you are expected or likely to participate.”
EC added that Himanta Biswa Sarma had also pleaded for reduction on the ban period on the ground that he himself is a candidate in the constituency which is scheduled for poll on 6th April, 2021. The EC added, “You are directed to ensure compliance of the Commission’s aforesaid directions.”
Earlier in the day, some media reports had claimed that Sarma has approached the Gauhati High Court challenging the EC order. But later he said that it is not correct, and he has not approached any court against the ban on him from campaigning.
Immediately after obtaining the relaxation from the EC, Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that he will be resuming campaigning from today evening itself, after the expiry of 24 hours period.
He tweeted that he will be attending a road show today evening Sonaram field to Lal Ganesh in Guwahati, in support of West Guwahati candidate Ramendra Narayan Kalita.
It may be noted that Himanta Biswa Sarma is yet to campaign for himself in the nearber Jalukbari constituency. It is expected that he will attend a rally or road show there tomorrow, the last day of the campaigning for the third and last phase of the Assam assembly elections.
Yesterday the election commission had banned Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning in the elections for 48 hours, on a petition by the Congress party. Congress leaders had approached the poll panel seeking an FIR and a ban on Sarma for his comments allegedly threatening to arrest Hagrama Mohilary, the chief of Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF).
During an interaction with media on 30th March, Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that if Hagrama Mohilary is found to be collaborating with extremist M Batha for return of extremism in the Bodoland area, he will be sent to jail. Sarma had also said that a recent case of recovery of arms from a vehicle in the Bodoland 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.
After receiving the petition, on 1st April the EC had asked Sarma to submit explanation within 2nd April. Himanta Biswa Sarma submitted his response yesterday accordingly, but EC was not satisfied with it, and imposed the ban.