Not battle ready,Congress seeks more time from state poll panel

Caught napping as the election commission notified zila parishad and block samiti elections,the Opposition Congress will approach the poll panel to reschedule them.

Written by Sukhdeep Kaur | Chandigarh | Updated: April 16, 2014 11:35:34 am

Caught napping as the election commission notified zila parishad and block samiti elections,the Opposition Congress will approach the poll panel to reschedule them. Claiming that the notification was tentative,state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa said he will meet State Election Commissioner SS Brar Tuesday as the notification has been issued with “malafide intent” to deny enough time to the opposition to decide candidates.

While the notification for polls was made on Thursday evening followed by three non-working days,the voter lists were uploaded by the department on Sunday. The reservation roaster was dispatched to block development officers (BDPOs) on Monday,three days before the filing of nomination begins on April 26. When contacted,Navneet Joshi,BDPO of Sudhar block in Ludhiana and Jalandhar BDPO Bhupinder Singh said they received the reservation roasters Monday afternoon.

In a meeting of its MLAs,defeated candidates and district presidents,the Congress unanimously decided to fight the polls on the party symbol —- a practice since 1992-93. The meeting was attended by just half of its 46 MLAs and 30 out of 68 defeated candidates. While Congress insiders admitted that the party has been caught off guard by the poll announcement,Bajwa said they do not have complete information on which village belongs to which block samiti and zila parishad,which ones fall in reserved category and whether they are reserved for men or women. “We are ready to face polls but how can we shortlist candidates if we do not have updated electoral lists and reservation roaster. The government has clandestinely passed on all information to their jathedars while keeping us in the dark,” he said.

If their demand for more time is not heard,Bajwa said they will contest the polls and put up a strong fight. “It is a good time to go to the people over false poll promises (made by ruling alliance),rising unemployment and the government’s luxury expenses. It is the first time that the government is holding the zila parishad and block samiti elections before the panchayat polls. It is yet another example of wasting precious resources of debt-burdened state,” he added.

Party spokesman Sukhpal Khaira said the party is also exploring the option of moving the Punjab and Haryana High Court to reschedule the elections if the state poll panel does not agree to do so.

However,the State Election Commission seems to be unwilling to agree. Brar,when contacted,claimed the political parties have been given sufficient time. “The elections were due in May. The entire exercise of notifying wards and electoral rolls was completed at least three to four weeks back. First drafts were displayed to invite objections and then final lists were published. The political parties had enough time to organise themselves and there is no question of a surprise notification of the polls,” Brar said.

While Khaira claimed there have been major changes in the lists,Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Surjit Rakhra said there has been no change in 80 to 90 per cent block samitis and zila parishads. “It is up to the election commission to announce poll dates. Congress is crying foul as it is struggling to find candidates and is looking for excuses to run away,” Rakhra said.

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Cong leader’s complaint of threat SMSes self engineered: Police

Amritsar: A complaint by Shaveta Bhardwaj,a Congress leader from Amritsar,of receiving threatening messages from a particular cellphone number is false and that “drama was self engineered by her”,police said Monday. On Sunday Punjab Police had registered a case against a unknown person after Shaveta alleged she was getting threatening text messages from a particular number. She alleged that the sender of the texts was demanding Rs 10 lakh and in case she failed to pay up,was threatening to kill her two children. “The preliminary investigations have revealed that the complaint is fake. The text messages were sent by Shaveta herself using another SIM,” said Amritsar Commissioner of Police Ram Singh. “We are now investigating the motive,” Singh added.

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