GUWAHATI: The Congress has filed a police complaint against Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, BJP chief J P Nadda, state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass and eight leading newspapers for “camouflaging an advertisement as news” predicting the party’s victory in all the seats in Upper Assam that went to polls in the first phase on March 27.
The FIR was lodged with Dispur police station on Sunday night for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), provisions of Section 126A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 and the ECI’s directives issued on March 26, APCC Legal Department Chairman Niran Borah said.
“This is a blatant violation of MCC, Representation of People Act, 1951 and the ECI’s relevant instructions and media policies by BJP leaders and members, who after realising that their defeat is inevitable have resorted to desperate illegal and unconstitutional methods to influence the voters across the state,” he said.
“In a pre-planned conspiracy to deceive voters in the second and third phases, CM, BJP national president, state chief and other members of the party have knowingly issued advertisements camouflaged as headlines on front pages of various newspapers claiming that the BJP will win all the constituencies of Upper Assam,” Borah said.
The advertisements have been presented in a manner to “prejudice the mind of the voters and this deliberate, malicious and malafide set of advertisements are in clear violation of Section 126A of the Representation of People Act, 1951, which is punishable by two years of imprisonment and fine”, he said.
Moreover, the ECI’s instructions, specific to Assam, had prohibited the dissemination of any form of prediction related to poll results between 7 am of March 27 till 7.30 pm of April 29, Borah said.
“The publication of large-scale advertisements by the BJP falsely predicting the outcome of the current assembly election in their favour also amounts to direct violation of the instructions,” he said.
The APCC further urged the police to take “prompt and necessary action” against those named in the complaint, including the newspapers.
The state Congress had filed a complaint with the Assam Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade and the AICC with the Election Commission of India against the publication of the advertisements on Sunday urging immediate action against the BJP and the newspapers.
An official at the CEO’s office here had said on Sunday that the matter will be examined by the ECI.
The leading English, Assamese, Hindi and Bengali newspapers which published the advertisements include The Assam Tribune, Asomiya Pratidin, Aamar Asom, Niyomia Barta, Asomiya Khabor, Dainik Asam, Dainik Jugasankha and Dainik Purvodaya.
An estimated 79.93 per cent of the total 81.09 lakh voters exercised their franchise in 47 assembly constituencies during the first phase of polling in Assam on Saturday.
Elections to 39 seats will be held in the second phase on April 1 and 40 in the third and final phase on April 6.