Assam Polls: EC Reduces Campaigning Ban On BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma From 48 Hrs To 24 Hrs

BJP, regional parties, Himanta Biswa  Sarma, Assam, Meghalaya, Congress, UDP, NPP, NEDA, Meghalaya polls, Shillong, Kamal Nath, Ahmed Patel, New Delhi, Meghalaya Governor, Governer Ganga Prasad
Himanta Biswa Sarma (file image)

The Election Commission on Saturday accepted Assam Minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma’s plea reducing the ban placed on him from campaigning from 48 hours to 24 hours.

On Friday, the poll watchdog barred Sarma from campaigning for 48 hours after Congress filed a complaint against him on March 30, alleging that the BJP leader “openly threatened” to send Mohilary to jail by “misusing” the NIA. Campaigning for the third and final phase of the assembly elections in Assam ends on April 4 at 6 pm.

In a letter to the EC, he said that his remarks for Bodoland People’s Front chief Hagrama Mohilary were “not a threat” to misuse the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Sarma denied charges of violation and pleaded with EC to revoke the ban against him today morning. In a letter to the Election Commission, Sarma had appealed to the organisation to dismiss the petition lodged by Congress.

Earlier, Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Saturday said BJP will approach court against Election Commission’s 48-hour ban on Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning in the state.

“On legal and factual grounds, BJP will approach the court against Election Commission’s 48-hour ban on Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning in Assam,” Thakur told news agency ANI.

In his reply to the EC, he said his remarks meant that the investigation can be handed over to the NIA as the place of occurrence of crime falls near international as well as the inter-state border.

He also justified the mention of Mahilary with relation to the case, saying that an ongoing investigation has proved the connection of Mahilary to the case.

“IGP Assam wrote to the government of Assam to consider the case for transfer to NIA at the earliest on the basis that the place of occurrence falls near international as well as inter-state border and there would be a need for investigation of the case beyond the state of Assam to unearth all the linkage of the case and also the matter pertains to security and the integrity of the nation and therefore it is of paramount importance to nab all the accused,” he said in his reply to the EC.

“It has come to the knowledge of the undersigned (Himanta Biswa Sarma) herein that the investigation of the case progressed so far has indicated close connection and nexus of Hagrama Mahilary and his party with the nabbed accused persons and the Election Commission of India may be pleased to call for the case records from the state police department to verify the same,” he further said.

The Assam minister said that a newspaper headline had created confusion by distorting his statements and clarified that he only meant that “if Hagrama does extremism with Batha and encourages him then he will go to jail”.

“It is stated that the headline of the newspaper clipping dated 29 03 2021 “Hagrama will be jailed for encouraging Batha’s extremism: Himanta Biswa Sarma” is a distorted statement of the undersigned by the said newspaper. From the said distorted statement in the headline, it transpires that the undersigned has said that Hagrama Mahilary would be jailed for encouraging Batha’s extremism, meaning thereby that from the said headline it appears to be a conclusion drawn by the undersigned that Hagrama has encouraged Batha’s extremism and he will be jailed. But actually, in response to a query of a journalist who had asked whether the undersigned was trying to send Hagrama Mahilary to jail, and in response to the said query the undersigned had replied that if Hagrama does extremism with Batha and encourages him then he will go to jail,” read the reply.

In Assam, the second phase that took place on Thursday saw a voter turnout of 74.76 per cent. Polling for the third and final phase will be held on April 6 and the counting of votes will take place on May 2.

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