Day After Poll Campaign Ban, Assam BJP Leader Challenges Election Commission Order in Court

Voting for the first and second phases in elections in the northeastern Indian state of Assam was held on 27 March and 1 April respectively. Polling for the third and final phase of the state legislature elections will be held on 6 April for 40 seats. 

Himanta Biswa Sarma, a state minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader has challenged the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) decision to bar him from poll campaigning, in the Guwahati High Court.  

The petition will be taken up by the court today.

The development came after the poll body took action on Friday on a complaint filed by the Congress Party. The complaint alleged that Sarma had openly threatened to send Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) leader Hagrama Mohilary to jail by misusing the National Investigating Agency (NIA).

The NIA is a counter-terrorist task force that is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across the Indian states without special permission from the states themselves.

The BPF is a state party that is part of the Congress-led alliance, Mahajot, in the area.

Soon after the complaint, the ECI questioned Sarma and asked him to send a reply. However, after “not [being] satisfied” with Sarma’s reply, he was barred from campaigning for 48 hours on Friday. 

“The commission (election commission) under Article 324 of Constitution of India and all other powers enabling in this behalf, bars him (Himanta Biswa Sarma) from holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, roadshows, interviews and public utterances in media (electronic, print, social media) etc. in connection with ongoing elections for 48 hours from an immediate effect on 02.04.2021 (Friday)”, the order issued by Election Commission Secretary Ajay Kumar Verma read.

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