Norms were openly flouted during voting of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation polls Saturday in the wards which not only had high-profile candidates and from where kin of Congress MLAs and other leaders were contesting. Residents who went to caste their votes, uploaded videos narrating bogus voting and hooliganism of political parties’ workers.
Several videos surfaced on the social media in which Ludhiana residents alleged that they saw some persons inside polling booths pressing buttons on EVMs multiple times. “The experience that we had today, it was better to sit at home than go out to vote. I saw a man pressing the ‘hand’ symbol multiple times. At last, when my turn came, they said my name is not there in the voting list, but still I can vote. Was it right to ask me to vote when my name wasn’t even there?”, said a resident.
The opposition parties accused Congress MLAs and leaders of influencing voters and sitting inside polling booths. SAD MLA Ranjit Singh Dhillon complained that a ‘fake’ polling agent of Congress entered polling booths in ward number 3 from where his wife Ninderjit Kaur was a candidate. “Bogus voting has taken place in front of our eyes. Fake polling agents of Congress were roaming openly,” he said. He further alleged that cars with registration numbers of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh among others were plying openly in the city with Congress flags on it, but police did not take any action. “Outsiders from Congress barged into polling stations and indulged in bogus voting,” he claimed.
Accused of influencing voters in favour of his son, Congress MLA (Gill) Kuldeep Singh Vaid allegedly went inside polling booths and even told polling staff to ‘take care of his voters’. His son Harkaran Vaid is contesting the polls for the first time and was given a ticket from general ward 44 even as his father is an MLA from the reserved category.
Former MLA Prem Mittal, whose son Jai Kishan Mittal is also the candidate from same ward on Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) ticket, also alleged that MLA and his supporters openly indulged in bogus voting and threatened polling agents of other parties. Vaid, however denied the allegations and said, “In fact, I even stopped my cadre from abusing anyone, let alone intimidation or physical attack. Those who are losing need some fodder for publicity,” he said. Heated arguments were also exchanged between police and SAD candidate Meetpal Dugri in ward number 44 as he alleged that Vaid not only openly influenced voters but also got his videographers arrested. “Police has picked up our videographers even as administration announced that we can get videography done at our level,” he said.
Ludhiana central MLA Surinder Dawar and his son Manik Dawar were also accused of influencing voters and indulge in bogus voting in ward number 59 and 62. MLA’s daughter in law Shalu Dawar is candidate from 59. Prabhjot Kaur, a BJP candidate, who along with her supporters sat on a protest in Daresi alleging hooliganism by the MLA’s family, said, “They even snatched my husband’s phone. Outsiders were called and they were getting bogus voting done even after 4 pm to which we objected. They even tried to hit my husband.”
LIP candidate Gurpreet Khurana from ward number 62 also alleged that Manik Dawar and Congress workers openly attacked him on Kamran road. Denying the allegations, Dawar said, “My son nor any of my family members attacked anyone. Other parties cannot tolerate people voting for us. There was no bogus voting.” Tension continued in ward number 66 also as BJP district president Ravinder Arora and its candidate Bhupinder Singh Honey Gurmail alleged attack on their polling agent by supporters of Congress candidate Narinder Kala, who is the brother of MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu.
Violence marred voting in ward number 75, from where senior advocate Amrit Varsha Rampal was Congress candidate against Sukhminder Kaur Bhinda, wife of senior SAD leader Bhupinder Singh Bhinda. Stone pelting was followed by alleged firing by Bhinda and his supporters injuring one Congress worker in BRS Nagar.
In ward number 39, LIP candidate Manjit Kaur Ghataure alleged that her brother in law Gurmeet Singh was allegedly attacked by supporters of Congress candidate Jaspreet Kaur Thukral. High drama was also witnessed in ward number 36 in Shimlapuri where SAD and Congress workers clashed and there was stone pelting amid allegations of booth capturing. Commissioner of Police RN Dhoke, however, claimed that the polls were ‘completely peaceful’. “Barring few incidents, the polls were completely peaceful. There was no major clash,” he said.