Following a complaint from opposition Congress, the Election Commission on Thursday issued notice to Assam Urban Development Minister Ashok Singhal for alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct while campaigning for the upcoming by-polls in the state. The poll panel had earlier also warned Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to strictly follow the provision of MCC while making public statements.
"The Commission served the show cause notice on Wednesday and sought the minister's reply by 5 p.m. on Thursday. If no explanation is submitted within the stipulated time, the Commission shall take a decision without any further reference to Singhal," an EC official said.
Congress leader Debabrata Saikia had alleged that "While participating in an election rally in Gossaigaon constituency, Ashok Singhal said that there will be no development in the constituency if people did not vote for the BJP in the by-election and that construction work on a dyke would begin within two months if BJP is voted to power." Saikia also attached a video clip in the complaint dated October 24.
Referring to the complaint, EC Secretary NT Bhutia said, "It is confirmed that you have made promises and announcements while addressing the gatherings at various places in the Gossaigaon constituency last week."
Bhutia further added that no permission was sought from the permission cell of Gossaigaon Election District for the said meeting as per the report from Assam Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade. In order to help the police make necessary arrangements for controlling traffic and maintaining law and order, the party or candidate should inform the local police well in advance of the venue and time of the proposed meeting.
"The Commission is of the view that by making the above statements and conducting election meetings without obtaining permission from the competent authority, you have violated the provisions of the MCC," the poll panel notice said.
The upcoming by-polls are to be held for five assembly seats, namely, Bhabanipur, Mariani, Thawra, Tamulpur and Gossaigaon. While the polls will be held on October 30, the counting will take place on November 2.