Guwahati: Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma – who last night was given a 48-hour ban on campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s Assembly election third phase – has not challenged the Election Commission’s order in the Gauhati High Court, sources close to the senior BJP leader said Saturday afternoon.
Mr Sarma had accepted the top poll body’s order and that media reports indicating he had filed an appeal in the Gauhati High Court were false. Mr Sarma would not move the High Court, or any other court, against the Election Commission orders, sources said.
Earlier reports had suggested Mr Sarma would, in fact, move the Gauhati High Court and a hearing on this matter could take place sometime today.
On Friday night the poll body issued its order after it upheld a complaint by the Congress; the party said Mr Sarma openly threatened to send Hagrama Mohilary – whose Bodoland People’s Front is a member of the opposition alliance – to jail by misusing the National Investigation Agency.
The period of the ban effectively meant Mr Sarma – who is the BJP’s main poll strategist and has been listed as a ‘star campaigner’ – could no longer campaign in this Assembly election.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had welcomed the ban and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda should be similarly barred.
“EC barring Himanta Sarma for 48 hours proves BJP has lost polls… is resorting to tactics to influence polls… should also bar Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Sarbananda Sonowal and JP Nadda, who were shown in ads in Assam’s newspapers, for free and fair polls,” he told news agency ANI.
On Thursday the poll body had issued a show-cause notice to Mr Sarma, to which he replied on Friday. Unfortunately for him, the explanation was deemed “not satisfactory”.
Mr Mohilary was once an ally of the BJP but switched to the Congress after the BJP joined hands with the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) to form Bodoland Territorial Council in December.
The election to the 126-member Assam Assembly has been spread over three phases with 77.2 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise in 39 constituencies in the second phase on April 1. In the first phase on March 27 around 76 per cent of voters in 30 constituencies cast their vote.
The third and final phase will be held on April 6, with votes to be counted on May 2.