Assam Congress on Wednesday welcomed the warning issued by the Election Commission to Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for violation of the model code of conduct ahead of the Assembly bypolls.
A total of 5 Assembly constituencies in Assam, including Thowra, Mariani, Bhabanipur, Tamulpur and Gossaigaon, will go to bypolls on October 30, 2021.
The Election Commission of India issued the warning to the Assam CM on the basis of two separate complaints lodged with the EC by Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Bhupen Kumar Borah and the Opposition leader in Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia.
Alleging that chief minister Sarma is a “habitual offender”, the APCC said Sarma “disregarded” the ECI’s model code of conduct by making announcements of new schemes and allotment of financial assistance to self-help groups (SHGs) while campaigning for the bye-election as the star campaigner for the BJP.
Earlier, chief minister Sarma tendered an “unconditional apology” to the Election Commission “in case of any inadvertent commission/omission of any provision of the model code of conduct”.
“Although CM Sarma, in a submission to the ECI, sought unconditional apology from the Commission for any inadvertent commission/ omission of the model code of conduct, the ECI considered all reports, documents and materials regarding the matter and issued a warning to CM Dr Sarma, cautioning him to be more careful, to exercise restraint in future and follow the code of conduct while making public speeches,” the APCC stated.
The EC acknowledged receipt of 2 complaints – one from Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia and another from APCC president Bhupen Kumar Borah – against CM Sarma for making several announcements on development works and aid to SHGs, at Bhabanipur, Thowra and Mariani constituencies during the election campaign.
APCC president Bhupen Kumar Borah, during his election campaign in Bhabanipur – where he inaugurated a statue of freedom fighter and martyr Dilip Kumar Das – spoke about the ECI’s warning to CM Sarma for violating the model code of conduct.
“It is a black day for Indian politics as well as for Assam that chief minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma had to tender an unconditional apology for violating the ECI’s model code of conduct and indulging in politics of appeasement and false promises,” Borah said.
“This is the result of the complaints filed by the Congress, for his false promises to the people and exposing his true colours. It is indeed a remarkable day in the state’s history as its chief minister has been forced to write to the ECI seeking an unconditional apology for breaking the Commission’s model code of conduct.”
“This is the same CM who had vowed to uphold the law and the ideals of the Constitution in the name of democracy.”
“He has lost the moral right to be the chief minister. It has been proved that CM Sarma can stoop to any level to keep his grip on power. The chief minister had labeled the Congress’ Nepali and tribal candidates as ‘cows’,” Borah added.
“The ECI has delivered an open-handed blow on the face of Dr Sarma. I demand that CM Sarma must apologize to the people of Assam for sullying the chair of Assam’s chief minister, a seat occupied by the likes of the late CM Gopinath Bordoloi,” Borah further said.
Assam Congress Legislature Party chief and Opposition leader in the State Assembly Debabrata Saikia also spoke on the matter while addressing a press conference in Sivasagar.
Saikia said, “Assam’s chief minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma has violated the ECI’s model code of conduct while campaigning for the bye-elections at different places. So, I had filed a complaint against him in the ECI on October 22, 2021.”
“Based on the complaint, the Commission had issued a show-cause notice to CM Sarma. The ECI has also severely reprimanded him, warning him to check his language while addressing the public in future.”
“Dr Sarma should apologise to the people of Assam for violating the election code of conduct while occupying the CM’s chair and insulting the people of Mariani, Thowra and Bhabanipur, as well as the whole of Assam,” he added.
Welcoming the ECI’s move in issuing a warning to CM Sarma, MP and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi also addressed a press conference at Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati on Wednesday.
“By violating the election code of conduct, Assam chief minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma has shamed the people of Assam before the whole world. At the same time, he has utterly betrayed the people in the constituencies of Bhabanipur, Mariani and Thowra, while making a mockery of the emotions of the state’s people,” he said.
“He also attempted to clear the election hurdle by tempting the people with announcements of new schemes, thus breaking the election code of conduct. But the ECI, acting on the complaint by the Congress, issued a show- cause notice to CM Sarma on October 26,” he added.
“In his reply, CM Sarma said he had announced the schemes already mentioned in the budget. Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma is the biggest liar chief minister of all time,” Gogoi asserted.
Gogoi further said CM Sarma has “insulted” the state’s constitutional seat of power. Gogoi accused CM Sarma of “not only violating the model code of conduct but also lying to the Commission.”