Poll code violation: EC lets off Assam CM with warning


PTI, Oct 27, 2021, 11:52 AM IST

New Delhi: The Election Commission let off Assam Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Hemanta Biswa Sarma with a warning on Wednesday for violating the model code during electioneering for the October 30 assembly bypolls.

The EC, in an order, said it is of the ”considered view” that Sarma, star campaigner for the BJP, has ”acted in contravention to the spirit of the advisory/instruction issued by the commission” regarding the model code of conduct.

”Now, therefore, the commission issues warning to him and cautions him to be more careful and exercise restraint in future and strictly follow the provisions of model code of conduct while making public utterances,” the order read.

The commission on Monday had issued a show-cause notice to Sarma for violating the model code by promising roads and other development projects while campaigning for assembly bypolls in the state.

The poll panel had received two complaints alleging that Sarma, in the capacity of the chief minister and the designated star campaigner for the BJP in Assam, made several announcements at various election meetings held in Bhawanipur, Thowra, and Mariani assembly seats for establishing the medical college, bridges, roads, high schools, stadium and sports complex, and also made an announcement for giving financial assistance to self-help groups of tea garden workers.

In its notice, the EC had reminded Sarma of provisions of the poll code and its instructions regarding ministers and the party in power.

”Announcement of new projects or programmes or concessions or financial grants in any form or promises thereof or laying of foundation stones, etc., which have the effect of influencing the voters in favor of the party in power is prohibited,” the EC had reminded him.

In his reply, Sarma denied the allegations on the grounds that all the announcements at various election meetings held in Bhawanipur, Thowra, and Mariani assembly seats for various development works and also the announcement for giving financial assistance to self-help groups of tea garden workers were 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. He said no new announcements as alleged by the complainants have been made by him.

The EC also took note of Sarma’s submission seeking an unconditional apology from the commission in case of any inadvertent commission/omission of any provision of the model code of conduct.

The bypolls will be held on October 30 and counting will take place on November 2.

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