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EC lets off Himanta Biswa Sarma with a warning over model code

The commission also told the CM to be 'more careful' and 'exercise restraint in future' and 'strictly follow' the provisions while 'making public utterances'
Himanta Biswas Sarma

Umanand Jaiswal   |   Guwahati   |   Published 28.10.21, 01:23 AM

The Election Commission on Wednesday let off Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma with a warning for not adhering to its model code of conduct while campaigning for the October 30 by-elections in the state.

Besides warning the BJP’s “star” campaigner, the commission also told Sarma to be “more careful” and “exercise restraint in future” and “strictly follow” the provisions of its model code of conduct while “making public utterances”.


This is the second time since April that the commission has ticked off Sarma for violating its code of conduct which comes into effect the moment it announces the election schedule. The commission had announced the dates for bypolls to five Assembly seats in Assam on September 28.

On April 2, the poll panel had barred Sarma from campaigning for 48 hours for threatening Bodoland People’s Party chief Hagrama Mohilary while campaigning for the Assembly polls which the BJP-led alliance won convincingly for a second straight term at Dispur.

The commission passed Wednesday’s order while acting on complaints lodged by state Congress leaders Debabrata Saikia and Bhupen Kumaer Borah, accusing Sarma of violating the model code of conduct. The Congress duo had also sought a bar on the chief minister from campaigning further for the bypolls.

Campaigning for the bypolls ended on Wednesday evening.

In its Wednesday’s order, the poll panel said Sarma responded to its notice to explain his position within the stipulated timeframe (5pm on Tuesday), denying the allegations levelled by the Congress leaders on October 22 and 23 respectively.

In his submission to the commission, Sarma denied the allegations on the ground that the announcements of development work and financial assistance to self-help groups of tea garden workers during campaigning in Bhawanipur, Thowra and Mariani Assembly seats “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”.

Sarma also submitted before the commission that no new or fresh announcements as alleged by the complainants were made by him. “He has also cited documentary evidence of the same,” the commission’s order said.

However, after “carefully considering” the matter and the documents/materials related to budget announcements and ongoing schemes, and having taken note of Sarma’s submission of seeking unconditional apology in case of any inadvertent commission/omission of any provision of the model code of  conduct, the commission issued a warning.

The poll panel was of the “considered view” that the chief minister has “acted in contravention to the spirit of the advisory/instruction issued by the Commission vide its letter dated 07.01.2007 concerning Model Code of Conduct…”

The Congress welcomed the order with Assam PCC president Borah claiming that it was a “slap on the face of Sarma” as he had to “tender an unconditional apology” before the commission. Saikia said his stand had been vindicated but he expected something “more than a warning” as Sarma had violated the commission’s model code of conduct for the second time since April.

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