GUWAHATI, April 1: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday issued a show cause notice to finance minister and NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly making threatening remarks against Opposition leader and (BPF) president Hagrama Mohilary.
Sarma has been asked to respond to the notice by 5 pm on Friday.
The Congress had approached the poll panel alleging that Sarma had threatened to send Mohilary to jail by misusing the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The BPF is an ally of the Congress-led Grand Alliance in Assam.
The notice to Sarma cited various provisions of the Model Code of Conduct, including the one dealing with refraining from making unverified allegations against political rivals and, avoiding “corrupt practices” and offences under the election law, such as bribing of voters, intimidation of voters, impersonation of voters.
“…the Commission is, prima facie, of the view that Sarma has violated the above said provisions of the Model Code of Conduct,” the notice read.
It also quoted a transcript of the speech provided by the state election machinery.
“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 a lot of evidence. This case is being handed over to NIA,” according to a portion of Sarma’s speech made part of the notice.
Commenting on the EC notice to Sarma, former Union minister and Congress MP Manish Tewari said “The EC issued the notice because it is convinced that such threatening language is not acceptable.
“The EC prima facie found him guilty. It is a conspiracy against the candidate. It is an attempt to subvert the election process. They (BJP) don’t believe in democracy and that is why they are resorting to such practice of threatening a candidate who is in the poll contest.
Sarma had said that he had got evidence of Mohilary’s alleged links with the recent recovery of arms in Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and the case was being given to the NIA for investigation.
Later the state director general of police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta had reportedly said that there was evidence of militants and his group in the arms recovery.
“We ask the Gujarati Mama (referring to Sarma’s allegiance to BJP and that he is popularly called ‘Mama’) when did that evidence come? If it came before the MCC came into force, then why were you silent? It means you were indulging in a criminal offence. If it came after the MCC came into force, then how and who gave the evidence to you because police now reports to the Election Commission,” he asked.
“Yesterday the DGP said that he has all the information. Is it a coincidence or deliberate? DGP Sir why are you not taking any action? Who has tied your hands? By making such statements, you are not strengthening the democracy, but weakening it,” Tewari added.