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EC warns Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma over breach of model poll code

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Guwahati, Oct 27, 2021- The Election Commission on Wednesday warned Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and cautioned him to be more careful and exercise restraint in future and strictly follow the provisions of Model Code of Conduct (MCC), while making public utterances.

The EC’s warning came a day after the Chief Minister sought “unconditional apology” in case of any inadvertent commission or omission of any provision of the MCC’ in response to the poll panel’s show cause notice over his alleged violation of MCC during campaigning for the October 30 Assembly by-elections, following a complaint from the Congress.

EC Secretary N.T. Bhutia in an order said that in his reply on Tuesday, the Chief Minister denied the allegations on the ground that all the announcements for various development works and also the announcement for giving financial assistance to self-help groups of tea garden workers are either ongoing projects or had already been announced by the state government in the budget speeches of 2020-21 and 2021-22 in the state Assembly.

“No new or fresh announcements as alleged by the complainants have been made by him. He has also cited documentary evidence of the same,” the order said quoting the CM’s reply.

The EC order said: “Sarma, star Campaigner for Bharatiya Janata Party has acted in contravention to the spirit of the advisory and instruction issued by the Commission vide its letter dated January 7, 2007 concerning the MCC. The Commission issues warning to him and cautions him to be more careful and exercise restraint in future and strictly follow the provisions of the MCC, while making public utterances.”

The poll panel said that notice was served to Sarma on Monday following separate complaints by Assam state Congress President Bhupen Kumar Borah and leader of Opposition in the Assembly Debabrata Saikia, that the Chief Minister, during the campaign, promised the construction of medical colleges, roads, bridges, stadiums, development projects and financial grant to self-help groups of tea garden workers.

Bhutia in his Wednesday’s order said that a delegation of the Congress met the commission on Tuesday and reiterated the issues stated in the written representation and also added a fresh allegation of discriminatory treatment vis-a-vis Indian National Congress over use of school field at Srirampur High School for the purpose of holding an election rally.

They requested the Commission for urgent intervention and necessary directions as per the MCC. “…On the basis of the report of Assam Chief Electoral Officer, it found that the said school field had not been allotted to any political party,” the order stated.

By-elections will be held for five Assembly seats – Bhabanipur, Mariani, Thawra, Tamulpur and Gossaigaon – on October 30. The counting of votes will take place on November 2. (Agency)

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