Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 7
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Sunday demanded municipal elections be annulled at all places where the nomination papers of opposition candidates had been rejected en masse even as it called for immediate deployment of para-military forces ensuring free and fair elections at remaining places.
Addressing a press conference, here, former minister Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said nomination papers of opposition party candidates had been rejected en masse in Zira where all seventeen Congress candidates had been elected unopposed.
He said similarly Congressmen had been declared elected unopposed in eight out of fifteen seats in Guruharsahai, seven out of 11 seats in Maluka, five out of 13 seats in Mehraj, four out of 13 seats in Bhai Roopa, six seats in Mandi Gobindgarh and eight seats in Ferozepur.
He said similarly nomination papers of SAD candidates had been rejected in seven seats in Gidderbaha.
Demanding re-election in all these seats, saying the nomination papers had been rejected even after the end of the scrutiny period at the instance of Congress legislators, Dr Daljit Cheema said it was now clear that the municipal elections had become one in which the State was contesting against the people.
“Even Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has become party to this and gone back on the promise to ensure free and fair elections made during the All Party Meeting recently”.
Stating that the SAD was not left with any choice except to approach the courts as well as Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, the SAD leader said: “It is a sad day for democracy that a constitutional authority like the State Election Commissioner has also abrogated its responsibility and is allowing the Congress party and the State government to murder democracy in the State. Never before has the SEC been so ineffective. It is refusing to even take note of summary rejection of nomination papers of opposition members and has not taken any action against civil and police officials who have actively colluded with Congressmen indulging in violence against the opposition”.
Giving instances, Dr Cheema said there was video evidence of Congress councillors attacking residences of Akali candidates, vandalizing vehicles and even brazenly shooting at them.
“The SEC, however, has acted in a spineless manner by refusing to take note of this evidence which is in public domain. We will bring this collusion of the SEC with the Congress party and the State government before the Governor as well as the courts during the coming days”, he added.
Asserting that the atmosphere in the State had been vitiated by the free run given to Congress goons, Dr Cheema said only deployment of para-military forces can check widespread rigging on election-day. He said the SEC should also take note of the volatile situation and give permission for videography inside polling stations to safeguard against malpractices. He said similarly the SEC should take note of the start of transfers in the education department which he said could be used to influence voters.
“The SEC should also look into complaints of how government departments like the food and civil supplies, drug inspectors and pollution control board are being misused to intimidate opponents by Congressmen. Separate cases should be registered into cases of violence like attack on the residence of the Akali candidate with pistols at Bhikhiwind, stoning of the SAD President’s vehicle at Jalalabad and violence at Guruharsahai and other places”.