48-Hour Ban Imposed On Election Campaign Of Himanta Biswa Sarma

Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma is an Indian Political leader and lawyer. He was an MLA from the Jalukbari constituency in Assam from 2001 to 2015 from Indian National Congress, and later, he joined the Bhartiya Janta Party on August 23 2015. Political leaders are conducting election campaign as the elections are going to happen very soon in West Bengal. Assam minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma of BJP, was given a 48- hour ban on campaigning by The Election Commission on April 2, 2021. The ban effectively means that Sarma will not be able to campaign in Assam until the ban remains in force.

The Election Commission has ordered a ban on a campaign of Sarma after a complaint lodged by Congress Party on March 30 and alleged that Mr sarma had misused the National Investigation Agency and threatened the chairman of the Bodoland people’s Front and Congress alliance partner, Hagrama Mohilary of sending him to jail. According to Congress Party, Sarma also tried to influence citizens not to vote for Congress’s alliance.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had welcomed the ban and said prime minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda should be similarly barred. After the complaint registered by Congress, The Election Commission had stated that” The Commission hereby strongly condemns the impugned statement made by Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP leader and star campaigner”. Taking the detailed knowledge of the complaint, the commission had examined Mr Sarma’s impugned statement’s verbatim and said that it was prima facie in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
The Election Commission had issued a notice to Himanta Biswa Sarma seeking his response on the allegations by Congress leaders. Mr Sarma submitted his reply denying the allegations that he had threatened Mohilary and tried to influence voters not to vote for the Congress alliance.

However, Election Commission did not find the explanation satisfactory. Accordingly, the Election Commission prohibited him from holding any public processions, rallies, roadshow or giving media interviews for 48-hours with immediate effect from April 2. Himanta Biswa Sarma pleaded Election Commission to reduce the ban to 24 hours as he is a candidate in the constituency, which was scheduled to go for polls on Tuesday.

In his representation, the Election Commission order said that Sarma requested the poll panel to accept his regret and assurance of abiding Moral Code of Conduct in future, and he further pleased to reduce the period of prohibition from election campaign from 48 hours to 24 hours.

The election commission accepted Sarma’s plea and decided to reduce the period of debarment from the election campaign from 48 hours to 24 hours. “Election Commission was inclined to give relief as Sarma accepted the ban and approached the Commission for relief with unconditional apology and assurance,” said a senior official. In a letter to Sarma, the Election Commission said that it had taken note of his “unconditional apology and assurance” and had decided to modify its order and reduced the period of debarment and said, “to the effect that permission will be granted to hold public meetings, public processions, public rallies, roadshow by the concerned district administration authorities, where you are expected or likely to participate.”

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Election Commission had allowed a similar relaxation to BJP leader Amit Shah after he was barred from campaigning in Uttar Pradesh over violation of the Model Code of Conduct. After Shah wrote to Election Commission assuring that he would not use abusive language in the campaign, Election Commission modified its order, and he was permitted to hold public meetings. However, since no apology was given from SP leader Azam Khan’s side, he faced a similar ban, he was not given relief.

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