Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was barred from campaigning for 48 hours by the Election Commission of India (ECI) over his comments to send his rival Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) chief Hagrama Mohilary to jail did a turn tail to challenge the ban in Guwahati High Court on Saturday.
Sarma was originally banned by the poll body for 48 hours on Friday from campaigning or speaking in public after a Congress delegation submitted a complaint against him for ‘openly threatening’ to send Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) chief Mohilary to jail by saying that he was misusing the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
According to the Congress party, Sarma also worked on maliciously trying to sway voters against polling for the Congress led alliance.
A close source to the leader said, “We are not going to HC with regards to the EC order, but there are plans to approach the EC to review its order.”
Priyanka Gandhi said, “While we were waiting for the strict action in the EVM case in the BJP leader’s car from the Election Commission, another move of the Commission seems to have torn the page of impartiality from its book. After all, under what pressure did the threatening BJP leader’s ban be reduced from 48 hours to 24 hours?
चुनाव आयोग से हम भाजपा नेता की गाड़ी में EVM मामले में कड़ी कार्रवाई का इंतजार कर ही रहे थे कि आयोग के एक और कदम से ऐसा लगता है कि उसने अपनी रुलबुक से निष्पक्षता वाला पेज फाड़के फेंक दिया है।
आखिर किस दबाव में धमकी देने वाले भाजपा नेता के बैन को 48 घंटे से घटाकर 24घंटे किया गया? https://t.co/ISBMCilBO7
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) April 3, 2021
Atanu Bhuyan @atanubhuyan said, “BREAKING: ECI relaxes 48-hours ban on campaigning by Himanta to 24-hours. That means, he can start campaigning from today evening onwards.
BREAKING: ECI relaxes 48-hours ban on campaigning by Himanta to 24-hours.
That means, he can start campaigning from today evening onwards. pic.twitter.com/tOuECUOHq2
— atanu bhuyan (@atanubhuyan) April 3, 2021
Disappointment poured out from all quarters from angry netizens saying:
Why are you even pretending @ECISVEEP ? Just don't.
— Ankit Mayank #RevolutionJeevi (@mr_mayank) April 3, 2021
Can anyone believe that @ECISVEEP once upon a time was ruled by fearless honest TN Seshan.
He would hv extended the ban to 96 hours in case someone wuld hv approached him to reconsider ban.
— Vimal Lakhotia (@vimallakhotia) April 3, 2021
“Can anyone believe that @ECISVEEP once upon a time was ruled by fearless honest TN Seshan. He would hv extended the ban to 96 hours in case someone wuld hv approached him to reconsider ban.”
The decision of the Election Commission had led people to say that the EC is biased and afraid of the Center, which made them roll back the decision of the 48 hours ban.
“The commission strongly condemns the impugned statements made by Sh. Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP leader and star campaigner,” the order issued by EC secretary Ajay Kumar Verma read.
The EC issued a written statement in this regard where the original statment that issued the ban of 48 hours read as, “The commission under Article 324 of Constitution of India and all other powers enabling in this behalf, bars him from holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows, interviews and public utterances in media (electronic, print, social media) etc. in connection with ongoing elections for 48 hours from immediate effect on 02.04.2021 (Friday),” it added.
The poll body’s notice to Sarma directed him to ‘explain his position’ by 5pm on Friday. If he fails to do so, it said, the commission will take action with no further reference to him.
That being said, the rules slackened over Sarma and his ban slid down to 24 hours.
The Assam Assembly elections are being held in three phases starting from March 27. The final phase is scheduled for April 6 and the results will be announced on May 2.