February 11, 2021 11:11:14 am
BJP leaders on Wednesday accused the ruling Congress in Punjab of trying to “loot” the civic body polls in the state by unleashing violence against the party’s candidates across the state and preventing them from standing for elections.
While state president of the party, Ashwani Sharma, said that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was responsible for failure to maintain law and order in the state and “encouraging” violence against BJP, the national general secretary of the party, Tarun Chugh, said that Congress has been promoting “gunda raj” in Punjab in the face of its bleak chances of winning in the municipal polls.
Interacting with media here, Sharma said that the Punjab government appears to have forgotten that it was their responsibility to maintain law and order and to give protection to candidates.
“But this election has seen the Congress holding democracy to ransom. No candidate or party is safe in this election other than Congress. When the elections were announced we had apprised the State Election Commission of all these facts. But to our dismay, from nomination till now, the elections are not free or fair,” said Sharma.
He said that it appeared that Congress has no faith in the voters and the party thinks they can misuse the police and administration to “loot” the elections.
“In Ferozepur, ten BJP candidates were not allowed to fight elections. In Ajnala 10 forms of BJP candidates were rejected and in Batala 8 forms were rejected. As many as 117 candidates of BJP were not allowed to fight the elections. I want to tell farmer union leaders that they should be watchful of Congress. They are giving a bad name to your movement by attacking us in your name,” Sharma said.
Accusing Congress of using farmers’ name to attack BJP candidates, offices and painting their posters black Sharma said the police was a silent witness to all these happenings.
“What kind of state election commission, DGP and state government is this? If you had to loot the elections then what was the need to conduct elections? Our workers are facing daily attacks like the one I faced in Ferozepur yesterday. In Hoshiarpur, our Dalit candidate was stopped from canvassing even as the police looked on. Threats were made. Can farmers do this? Who are these people? When will this government wake up? And then when we say DGP has no backbone some people get irritated,” he said.
Sharma said that the state president of a national party cannot hold meetings for his candidates then one can judge what kind of election that is being held. “You can oppose a party or candidate under democracy, shout slogans, etc. But same democratic rights are available to our party also,” he said.
Referring to the Ferozepur incident where he came under attack, Sharma said that the IG and the SSP who were present on the spot allowed the attackers to come near him.
“How can the IG and SSP be absolved of blame? Iron rods and spears were held by the so called protestors. Bricks and stones were rained on us. No farmer can do this. An attempt was made to remove turban of our leader Sukhpal Singh Nannu,” said Sharma.
The state BJP president also condemned the statement made by Capt Amarinder Tuesday hitting out at the BJP. “The kind of statement Amarinder has made serves to incite people in the state. Congress wants to promote goons and the CM is giving them encouragement. I condemn it. CM should keep in mind the stature of his office before speaking,” he said.
Referring to two Akali supporters who have reportedly been killed in Moga allegedly by Congress workers, Sharma accused the DGP and state election commission of “sleeping like Kumbhkaran”.
“Next two days in Punjab are going to be very hard for people of the state. And the consequences will be the responsibility of the Chief Minister,” he said.
Sharma said that the husband of a BJP candidate in Mohali, Munni Devi, has committed suicide because of harassment by official apparatus who did not want to allot party symbol to his wife to contest the polls.
Meanwhile, BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said Capt Amarinder had “subverted” all democratic norms and “unleashed a reign of terror and violence” in the state in his nervous run-up to the municipal elections.
“The writing on the wall for Amarinder is clear, so he is getting nervous and jittery and is seeking help of fundamentalists and unlawful elements to cow down the BJP,” said Chugh.
Reacting to the CM’s statement that the BJP would be wiped out in the wake of the farmer bills, Chugh said Amarinder’s wishful thinking has made him blind to the ground realities.
“He is living in a fool’s paradise if he thinks that the BJP could be wiped out. Many Congress leaders in the past had such dreams in their eyes, but the BJP has only grown from strength to strength”, he said.
Chugh lambasted the Congress government for not fulfilling the promises it had made to farmers in its election manifesto. While the Congress had promised to improve the mandi system in the state it had also promised to waive farmer loans to the tune of Rs 90,000 crores.
“But it has miserably failed to keep any of its promises, so much so that even the recommendations made by the Montek Singh Ahluwalia committee to improve the plight of farmers have been shelved,” Chugh said adding that the Congress had always cheated the farmers and had never tried to help improve their plight.
No dearth of candidates
Ashwani Sharma said that there was no dearth of party candidates in the civic polls. Answering a question on many BJP candidates reportedly fighting as Independents, he said the party had put up 352 candidates out of 400 seats of corporations in the state and 780 candidates put of 1230 Class A and B civic bodies. In Class C civic bodies and panchayati institutions where symbols are not used, there were 225 party candidates in the fray, he said.
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