‘ECI’s role questionable’: Congress on poll body’s decision to reduce campaign ban on Himanta Biswa Sarma
The Congress on Saturday condemned the Election Commission of India (ECI) for its decision to reduce by half the 48-hour-long campaign ban imposed on Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma. The party, in a strongly worded tweet in Hindi, called the poll body a “participant in the attack on the country’s democracy and constitution.”
“The role of Election Commission of India is to be impartial. But it appears questionable and on the side of the authority. To reduce the duration of the ban imposed on the BJP leader [Himanta Biswa Sarma] is condemnable. The ECI is also a participant in the attack on the country’s democracy and constitution,” Congress tweeted, with a picture of the ECI’s order.
Supporting his party’s stance, Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala also made similar comments regarding the issue.
“A dark day for Parliamentary democracy. #ECI doesn’t even have the guts to sustain its own order. Deplorable that EC buckles under Modi Govt’s pressure & reverses its own order of ban on Sh. Himanta Biswa Sarma. History will neither pardon #ECI nor #BJP for this sin,” Surjewala tweeted.
He also posed four questions to the election commission asking about the intention to reduce the ban. “Will #ECI tell - 1. Was this somersault taken suo moto or on a fresh plea by BJP/Himanta Sarma? 2. If yes, why did EC then not call upon the complainant, BPF & Congress? 3. If no, why this vexatious change of heart? 4. Does it now give a license to issue threat with impunity?” he asked.
Earlier on Friday, ECI banned Sarma from campaigning in Assam for a 48-hour duration following a complaint by the Congress on March 30 saying that he threatened Hagrama Mohilary, chief of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), with imprisonment. The duration of the ban was curtailed to 24 hours on Saturday.
With the campaigning for the third and final phase of the Assam assembly elections set to end on April 4, Sarma has only the last day left for his campaign with the ECI’s new decision. As much as 40 assembly constituencies in Assam would go to polls during the final phase scheduled for April 6.