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Criticism of Akbar 'legitimate', defends Himanta despite EC show-cause notice

Guwahati: Notwithstanding the show-cause notice by the Election Commission for his alleged ‘communally charged statements’, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday defended his speech and said it was a “legitimate criticism” of Chhattisgarh Minister Mohammed Akbar.

The Election Commission on Thursday slapped a show-cause notice to Sarma for prima facie violation of the Model Code of Conduct and asked him to respond by October 30 evening.

“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,” Sarma said in a post on X.

The senior BJP leader asserted that the Congress will have to face the legal consequence of not revealing the crucial fact in their representation.

“I have full faith in the collection (sic) wisdom of the Hon’ble Election Commission,” he added.

The Assam chief minister was reacting to a post on the microblogging site by Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, who termed the BJP leader a “serial offender” and hoped that the poll watchdog will take this case to its “logical conclusion”.

Sarma made the remarks targeting Akbar during the assembly poll campaign on October 18 in Kawardha in Chhattisgarh.

In a speech in Kawardha in Chhattisgarh on October 18, Sarma had taken a controversial dig at Akbar saying that “the land of Mata Kaushalya will get defiled if Akbar isn’t sent off.”

“If one Akbar comes to some place, he calls 100 Akbars. So, send him off as soon as possible, otherwise the land of Mata Kaushalya will get defiled,” he had said.

Mata Kaushalya, the mother of Lord Ram, is believed to hail from what is modern-day Chhattisgarh.

The Congress on Wednesday filed a complaint with the Election Commission against Sarma for his remarks against Akbar.

The party had alleged that Sarma’s remarks showed a clear-cut intention to incite sections of society against one another.

While issuing the notice to Sarma, the Election Commission reminded him of a provision in the poll code which states that “no party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.”

Elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly will be held in two phases – on November 7 and 17.

(Published 27 October 2023, 07:41 IST)

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