GUWAHATI: In a sharp response to the show-cause notice issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI), Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, on Friday, asserted that the Congress party might face legal action for not revealing essential information to the Commission.
The Chief Minister, taking to a micro-blogging platform, said, “Congress has withheld the material information from the Hon’ble Election Commission that Mohammed Akbar is their candidate from Kawardha Constituency. Therefore, legitimate criticism of a candidate does not amount to communal politics. Congress will have to face the legal consequence of not revealing this crucial fact in their representation.”
Earlier on October 26, the ECI’s had issued the notice to the Chief Minister concerning allegations of making communally charged remarks during a campaign in poll-bound Chhattisgarh.
The action was taken after the Congress party lodged a complaint, suggesting that Sarma’s remarks against their candidate, Mohammad Akbar, were sectarian.
Specifically, while campaigning at Kawardha in Chhattisgarh on October 18, Sarma was quoted as saying, “If one Akbar arrives at some place, he invites 100 Akbars. So, expel him soon, or the land of Mata Kaushalya will be tarnished.”
Reacting to the allegations, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had stressed that politicians, especially those in constitutional roles, shouldn’t be permitted to breach the Model Code of Conduct. “Such adherence is vital to safeguard the integrity of our elections and the very essence of our democracy,” Ramesh had remarked online.
The ECI, in its show-cause notice, identified certain segments of Sarma’s October 18 speech as being “prima facie violative” of both the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The Commission has now set a deadline of 5 pm on October 30 for Sarma to present his official response.
Furthermore, the ECI’s notice underscored a specific provision in the election code, which cautions against activities that might heighten existing divides or kindle mutual animosity among various castes, communities, religions, or languages.