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EC notice to Assam CM on poll code breach, Cong seeks bar on campaigning

The notice was served to Sarma for allegedly promising the construction of medical colleges, roads, bridges, stadiums, development projects and financial grants to self-help groups of tea garden workers.

IANS | Guwahati |

The Election Commission has issued notice to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma over his alleged violation of code of conduct during campaigning for the October 30 Assembly by-elections, following a complaint from the Congress.

Amid the EC’s showcause notice seeking Sarma’s response by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the Congress on Tuesday demanded the poll panel immediately bar him from further campaigning.

EC Secretary N.T. Bhutia, citing the rules, said that from the time elections are announced, Ministers and other authorities shall not announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof or make any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc.

“The Commission is of the view that by making the above statements, you have violated the said provision of Model Code of Conduct and the instructions. Now, therefore, the Commission gives you an opportunity to explain your position in this regard on or before 5 p.m. of Tuesday. If no explanation is submitted within the said time limit, the Commission shall take a decision without any further reference to you,” the notice to Sarma said.

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.

Meanwhile, the Congress said that Sarma being the constitutional head of the state is supposed to respect the model code of conduct.

“But instead it is being seen how brazenly and openly Sarma is violating the rules without consideration for EC rules giving the impression that those in power are not accountable to anybody. This reflects a complete lack of respect for institutions and rules,” state Congress chief spokesperson Bobbeeta Sharma said.

It is evident through the proof of the video clippings that the Chief Minister has violated the model code of conduct and the EC should not wait for a response by giving a show cause notice, she said, in a statement.

“On the basis of the audio-visual evidence, Sarma should be immediately barred from further campaigning. This would set an example for EC that the model codes of conduct rules have been made to be followed and not to be disregarded in utter disdain by those in power,” the statement said.

By-elections will be held for five Assembly seats – Bhabanipur, Mariani, Thawra, Tamulpur and Gossaigaon – on October 30.