The second and concluding phase of polling in Assam ended on a dramatic note on Monday as an FIR was registered against chief minister Tarun Gogoi for violating electoral laws by holding a press conference when voting was on.
The FIR, registered in Guwahati on directions of the Election Commission, would not have an impact on the polling process in the constituency but, if convicted, Gogoi could face a jail term of up to two years or a penalty or both, commission officials said.
Gogoi’s political adversaries termed the press conference a sign of desperation. The three-term CM is confronted with a resurgent BJP, which is seeking to create history by forming a government in Assam for the first time. The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal said the Congress was losing the election and was violating laws out of “frustration”.
Gogoi accused the commission of being biased. “Having been a lawyer, I know the law. I have not violated any poll code. EC is under the Centre’s influence,” he said.
Deputy election commissioner Sandeep Saxena said Gogoi had been accused of holding a press conference when the second phase of polls was underway. He has been booked under Section 126 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, which bars public meetings during the 48 hours preceding the conclusion of polling.
According to a PTI report, Gogoi, in his presser, attacked the BJP and the “partisan” role of the election machinery. The CM reportedly said many BJP leaders were “openly” violating the model code of conduct but no action was being taken against them.
Just before the press meet, Kamrup metropolitan executive magistrate Chinmoy Nath reached the venue and tried to prevent Gogoi from going ahead with it. “When I requested him not to hold the press meet, he asked me to arrest him,” Nath said.