Popular Bangladeshi actor Ferdous Ahmed was ordered to leave the country immediately and his business visa cancelled, an official said on Tuesday, two days after he allegedly campaigned for West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress that sparked a political row.
West Bengal state Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Jay Prakash Majumdar and Sisir Bajoria also met the state's Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab on Monday to register a complaint and urged him to take appropriation action over the alleged violation of the model code of conduct by the TMC.
A video showing Ahmed and Bengali actors Ankush and Payal participating in a roadshow on Sunday to seek votes for Kanhaiyalal Agarwal, the TMC candidate from Raiganj Lok Sabha seat, went viral on social media.
"All should vote for the Trinamool Congress. All should vote for Didi (TMC chief Mamata Banerjee)," Ahmed was claimed to have told voters while sharing the dais with Agarwal.
The Centre on Tuesday issued a 'Leave India' notice and cancelled the business visa given to the actor.
Ahmed has also been 'blacklisted' by the Union Home Ministry, thus jeopardising the prospects of his future travel to India.
"After receiving a report from the Bureau of Immigration regarding visa violations committed by a Bangladesh National, Ferdous Ahmed, the home ministry has cancelled his business visa and issued him a 'Leave India' notice. He has also been blacklisted.
"The FRRO Kolkata has been directed to ensure compliance of these orders," a Union home ministry official said in Delhi.
The move comes hours after the central government sought a report from the Foreigner Regional Registration Officer (FRRO), Kolkata, on the Bangladeshi actor over his alleged poll campaign.
Majumdar, the state BJP vice president, wanted to know how a Bangladeshi national on a visit to the country could campaign for a candidate, and alleged that the actor was brought to polarise minority voters in the constituency.
"We believe that it is a completely illegal move executed intentionally. This is a proof of the TMC's bankrupt politics," he said.
When reached by PTI for comments, Agarwal said he had no knowledge of the actor canvassing for him.
"I have no knowledge about this (Ahmed campaigning for him). I have only two star campaigners Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikary. I have participated in Mamata's two rallies and today I took part in a roadshow in Islampur where Suvendu Adhikary was present," Agarwal said.
Senior TMC leader and former state minister Madan Mitra was dismissive about any violation of the model code because of a Bangladeshi national campaigning in an election in India.
"I don't know whether the actor participated in the rally or was invited by the candidate. But I don't think there is any violation of the model code.
"The code says a foreigner cannot be a candidate but I think there is no harm if anybody participates in campaigning. I don't see any violation of the MCC," Mitra said.
Photograph: Kind courtesy @SuPriyoBabul/Twitter