The Election Commission Saturday reduced the 48-hour campaign ban imposed on Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma to 24 hours after he tendered an "unconditional apology" and assured the poll panel that he will abide by the provisions of the model code. The BJP leader now can start campaigning from the evening.
He was on Friday initially barred from campaigning-related activities till April 4 for making threatening remarks against Bodoland People's Front (BPF) chief Hagrama Mohilary. Canvassing for the third and final phase of Assam assembly elections comes to an end on the evening of April 4. The final phase of polling will be held on April 6.
In his representation to the Election Commission on Saturday, Sarma had pleaded to reduce the ban to 24 hours on the ground that he is himself a candidate in the constituency which is scheduled to go for polls on Tuesday. The EC order said in his representation, Sarma requested the poll panel to "accept my sincere regret and assurance of abiding MCC in future, and, be further pleased to reduce the period of debarment from election campaign from 48 hours to 24 hours".
The EC said after considering his "unconditional apology and assurance/undertaking", it has decided to modify its April 2 order and "reduce the period of debarment from election campaign from 48 hours to 24 hours to the effect that permission may be granted for holding any public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows by the concerned district administration authorities, where you are expected or likely to participate." The Congress had approached the EC demanding action against Sarma for his remark that Mohilary would be sent to jail through central probe agency NIA if he does "extremism" with rebel leader M Batha. The BPF is an ally of the Congress in Assam. It was previously with the BJP.