More than 2,000 complaints of various poll code violations,recoveries of over Rs 26 crore in cash,over 1 crore milliliters of illicit liquor,1 lakh bottles of country-made wine,over 2.7 lakh medical drugs (tablets and capsules),over 42,000 kgs of Lahan (a drug often used to locally brew liquor),CDs of X-rated films and even condoms.
This is what has transpired in Punjab in the past 27 days,ever since the model code of conduct came into force. No wonder,the EC officials are finding their hands full in the run up to the January 30 polls.
Complaints of all kinds started pouring in from December 25 last year,just a day after the code kicked in. Initially,the complaints related mainly to allegations about serving government officials trying to campaign for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government,candidates distributing goodies,Punjab Police officials trying to allegedly threaten people into voting for particular candidates and rival political parties trading charges over each others conduct.
But as days progressed,the complaints started getting personal.
People,who have been fighting civil cases in courts,brothers engaged in property disputes,or even neighbours who have been having trouble over an old issue started filing complaints with us, Punjabs Special Chief Electoral Officer,Usha R Sharma,said.
In fact,during the past two weeks,the Punjab EC office in Chandigarh has been flooded with complaints,which are either personal grievances or disputes or dont have anything to do with the polls. We are getting complaints on fax,e-mail,routed through Election Commission office in Delhi and directly here as well, Sharma added.
A pro-active EC,on its part,claims to have already redressed and settled 1,140 of the 2,020 complaints it had received till today. At least 50 government officials have also been transferred following complaints.
But while the Punjab polls are already being talked of as a lacklustre affair,given the stringent EC monitoring of the poll expenditure incurred by the candidates,the quantum of recoveries of cash,liquor and drugs reveal that a familiar pre-poll story appears to be playing itself out in the state.
*Rs 26.12 crore in cash has so far been seized in the state. Of this,Rs 25 crore has already been referred to the Income Tax department.
*1.01 milliliters of illicit liquor and 1.02 lakh bottles of country-made wine have been seized so far.
*Over 42,000 kilograms of Lahan,10,000 grams of opium and 6,357 grams of opium have been recovered.
*Around 1.66 lakh tablets and 92,000 capsules,that can potentially be abused,have been seized.
*29 CDs of adult x-rated films were seized from Amritsar city following a complaint.
*Packs of condoms,too,have been seized from many places.
*In addition,the EC has been getting complaints of candidates trying to lure the voters by distributing free goodies ranging from shoes to clothes.
In fact,the EC had to intervene and impound around 200 bicycles which the Punjab government was trying to distribute in Lambi,the constituency of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. These bicycles,distributed to schoolgirls under the Mai Bhago scheme,carry the Chief Ministers photograph in front. Around two weeks back,the EC had confiscated 1,000 trunks filled with utensil kits and carrying the Chief Ministers photograph from a factory in Mohali. These trunks were supposedly to be distributed to people under a rural development scheme. The EC has also seized 231 sewing machines,which allegedly were to be distributed,so far.