Assam Bypolls: EC Warns CM, Asks Him to Maintain Restraint While Campaigning

EC sent a notice to Sarma based on complaints by Opposition leaders for violating the Model Code of Conduct.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Himanta Biswa Sarma. Image used for representational purposes.&nbsp;</p></div>

The Election Commission on Wednesday, 27 October, issued a notice to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, asking him to be cautious, exercise restraint, and follow the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) while speaking in public.

EC issued a notice to Sarma after Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia and President of Assam Congress Bhupen Kumar Borah filed a complaint against him, alleging that Sarma had violated the MCC during the bypoll campaigns.

“The Commission issues warning to him (Sarma) and cautions him to be more careful and exercise restraint in future and strictly follow the provision of Model Code of Conduct, while making public utterances,” said a notice by EC secretary NT Bhutia.

The Model Code of Conduct or MCC states that members of the ruling government cannot make promises or introduce projects during campaigning or rather after elections are announced as it may influence voters.

Sarma has been making announcements with building of roads, medical colleges, schools, and stadiums and also promised financial assistance to self-help groups of tea garden workers during the campaign, the Indian Express reported.

The EC had received complaints on Monday, 25 October, and acted within 24 hours. The commission maintains that it did so after careful consideration of the matter and the documents at hand. The complaints asked for a ban on him from campaigning but the EC let the CM off with just a warning.

The Congress still believes that the punishment should have been more stern and that the BJP should apologise to the people of Assam.

"Shameful and illegal attempts to influence voters exposed. EC should have given a far more stern punishment. The BJP should now apologise to people of Assam."
Randeep Sujrewala, Congress spokesperson wrote on Twitter

While the CM offered an unconditional apology, he denied all allegations stating that announcements of financial assistance were about ongoing projects and were announced in the Budget speeches by his government before.

Voting for the bypolls has been scheduled for Saturday, 30 October, and the counting will resume on 2 November. Bypolls will be held in five Assembly constituencies in the state. They are Gossaigaon, Tumulpur, Bhaawanipur, Mariana, and Thowra.

(With inputs from the PTI, Times Now and Indian Express)

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