New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) The Congress on Saturday slammed Election Commission of India for reducing the ban of BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma from 48 hours to 24 hours saying has the panel reversed its own decision because he has to address a public meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi also take a pot shot at the poll panel and in a tweet saying, “Election ‘Commission’.”
Former Union Law Minister and senior Congress leader Ashwini Kumar while addressing a press conference here at the party headquarters said, “Today, we are here in order to express our deep dismay and disappointment at the decision of the Election Commission to reduce the barring period for Himanta Biswa Sarma’s campaigning period from 48 hours to 24 hours.”
The poll panel on Friday had barred Sarma, who is contesting from Assam’s Jalukbari Assembly constituency, from campaigning for 48 hours on charges of threatening opposition leader Hagrama Mohilary of the Bodoland People’s Front.
The poll panel’s decision came in the wake of the complaint filed by the Congress on March 30, alleging that Sarma had openly threatened to send Mohilary to jail by misusing the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
However, in less than 24 hours the poll panel on Saturday in a fresh order gave relief to Sarma by reducing his ban from campaigning in Assam Assembly polls to 24 hours.
Attacking the poll panel, Kumar said, “Within less than 24 hours, the EC without notice to or seeking the comments of the complainant — the Congress and the Bodoland People’s Front — has reversed its own decision.”
The Congress leader said, “Now, this is unheard of in the annals of Parliamentary history that the Chief Election watchdog reverses its own decision made upon a complaint by a complainant without the courtesy of even a notice to that effect to the complainant.”
The former Law Minister said that the Election Commission has “singularly failed” to discharge its obligations as far as this case is concerned, because we do not know under what circumstances the commission was persuaded by a mere letter from Sarma.
He further said that on Sunday Sarma is supposed to be holding a public meeting with the Union Home Minister.
“Why his barring period has been reduced? This is a very pertinent question and I think the people of India will understand what the real reasons could have been,” he said, adding that again today Sarma has asked people to join him in a road show in favour of an AGP candidate on his Twitter profile.
The Congress leader said that all these road shows are planned well in advance in the election. “So, did he know already that he was going to get a reprieve or going to get some kind of concession?” he questioned.
Targeting the poll panel, Kumar said that even after Sarma admitted to wrong doing, his punishment period has been reduced, which is unheard of in any judicial or quasi judicial proceeding without notice to the complainant.
He said, “We would like to tell the nation that all is not right with the way the elections in Assam are being conducted. The manner, in which the Chief Protector of the voter’s rights has acted, raises several doubts.”