The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday issued a show-cause notice to Assam finance minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly threatening Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) president Hagrama Mohilary.

The show-cause notice has been served to Himanta Biswa Sarma, the convenor of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Congress.

Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) is one of the partners of the Grand Alliance, led by Congress.

BPF, which has snatched ties with the BJP, joined the Grand Alliance to fight the ongoing Assam Assembly election 2021.

The Hagrama Mohilary-led BPF fielded 12 party candidates to contest the Assam Assembly election 2021 in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).

But with the BPF candidate for the Tamulpur seat, Rangja Basumatary, joining the BJP on Thursday, the number of candidates of the Hagrama Mohilary-led party contesting the Assembly election has been reduced to 11.

The show-cause notice, issued by ECI secretary Ajay Kumar Verma, said the Commission is, prima facie, of the view that Sarma has “violated” the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct, which came into force since February 26, 2021.

The Commission has asked minister Sarma to explain his position in making the statement related to Hagrama Mohilary on or before 5 PM of April 2, 2021 “failing which the Commission shall take a decision without any further reference” to him.

According to the Model Code of Conduct imposed by the ECI: “Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Parties and candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided”.

The ECI show-cause said a Congress delegation submitted a complaint on March 30, 2021, to the Commission, wherein it has been alleged that BJP leader and Cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma openly threatened Hagrama Mohilary of sending him to jail by misusing the Central Agency NIA.

The Congress further alleged that by the said threats, Sarma has also attempted to influence the voters to not vote for Congress alliance, including Mohilary’s party.

The party also attached a copy of news clippings published by a media organization on March 29, 2021 to substantiate their allegation.

Here’s the relevant portion of Himanta Biswa Sarma’s statement obtained by the Commission from the Chief Electoral Officer of Assam:

“… If Hagrama does extremism with Batha he will go to jail. This is a straight talk. If Hagrama encourages Batha, he will go to jail. Already got lot of evidence. This case is being given to NIA.  The recovery of arms at Kokrajhar in a car, that case is being given to NIA. Nobody will be allowed to do unrest in BTR, even if he is Hagrama or any one. This will not be tolerated. We are not afraid of Botha. I am making it clear. There will be no bomb in BTR, there will no firearms in BTR. The people of Assam should understand this. And I do not care any Hagrama… Tagrama.  These arms recovery cases will be counted one by one after the election. Leave who is saying what… listen to what Himanta Biswa Sarma is saying. We will not allow to do unrest in Bodoland… this is being enquired by the NIA. I know many things… and in whose investigation they (Batha) are going (to jungle) have not the people of Assam summed up? Those who are living in distress will only make people suffer, will someone who is happy make others unhappy?…”

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