New Delhi: Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday led a delegation of party MPs and MLAs to meet the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Naseem Zaidi with the demand for the imposition of President’s Rule in Punjab to ensure free and fair elections.
With elections to the state assembly due early next year, Captain Amarinder sought the Election Commission’s early intervention to prevent further vitiation of the political, administrative and law & order environment in the state. The Congress team urged the Election Commission to hold the Punjab assembly polls in a single phase to prevent the Akali government in the state from using any additional time to further misuse their authority.
If they (the Akalis) are allowed to continue with their uninhibited control over the state’s administration till the completion of the polls, they will not only plunge the state into further lawlessness but will misuse the SGPC to control their black money into white, said Captain Amarinder. Complaining that the Akalis were planning to sell off all Punjab water to make money for themselves, Captain Amarinder later told mediapersons that, if allowed to be built, the SYL canal will deprive the people of the Malwa region even of drinking water.
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president was accompanied by AICC in-charge of Punjab affairs, Asha Kumari, and AICC national secretary Harish Chaudhary, Punjab Congress MPs Ravneet Singh Bittu, Santokh Chaudhary and Ambika Soni, Punjab Congress senior vice president Laal Singh and vice presidents Dr Amar Singh, Sunil Jakhar and Manpreet Badal. Others in the delegation included Punjab Congress MLAs Charanjit Singh Channi, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukh Sarkaria.
Seeking imposition of the code of conduct in Punjab without further delay, the Congress delegation submitted a detailed memorandum to the CEC citing complete deterioration of the situation in the state, which was detrimental to holding fair and free polls.
In a memorandum submitted to the Election Commission, the delegation pointed out that in the last 10 years of its rule, the SAD-BJP combine in Punjab had destroyed basic structures and systems, causing untold misery and sorrow to the common man. There has been a complete collapse of the administration in the state, said the memorandum, adding that the Election Commission of India had got a glimpse of the situation during its last visit to the state on October 23-24.
Listing down the problems gripping the state, the memorandum referred to increase in suicides by farmers and complete breakdown of law and order as signified by the daylight murders and dacoities. Growth of trade and industry has come to a standstill because of the non-transparent and anti-trade policies of the present government, with the common man denied choice of free trade by hooligans and criminals supported and patronized by the ruling combine.
The Congress lamented that rule of the law had become an exception in Punjab, with liquor mafia, sand mafia, drug trafficking and unleashing of state terror through false FIRs continuing unabated. Not a single culprit involved in desecration of Holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji has been identified and brought to justice, while cases of disrespect to Srimad Bhagvat Gita, the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible have caused much anguish to the minorities.
“The admission by the DGP of Punjab, that 52 organized armed gangs are running riot in the state, indicates the helplessness of the police in tackling them because of State government patronage,” said the memorandum.
The situation, said the memorandum, had “further worsened with inadequate and ineffective administrative and legal actions taken by the present government to defend the state’s water rights in the apex court.” As a result, it added, “social tensions are rising and all segments of society, including trade, business and industry are feeling financially suffocated.”
With this pugnacious and lawless governance in the state, Indian National Congress does not think that it would be possible to hold free and fair elections to the State Assembly, the memorandum said. It expressed apprehensions that the law and order in the state would worsen further because of the unscrupulous attempts of the ruling political parties to exploit people’s sentiments in their favour. The Congress further expressed concern that the ruling SAD-BJP combine, worried about their future, was “trying to do everything possible to salvage the position, even if it amounts to the violation of the country’s Constitution and compromise with national sovereignty and integrity.”
It accused the ruling combine of misusing official machinery and funds to promote their vested interests, citing various instances to support the charge, and pointing out that as a result of financial imprudence and malfeasance, the state’s overall debt had touched an unsustainable level of Rs. 150,000 crore.
The Punjab Congress said it expected the election to be violent, with voters being bribed and terrorized, and suggested to the Election Commission a series of measures to be taken urgently to safeguard the interests of the state. It demanded removal of the present government and conduct of polls by a neutral administration under President’s Rule. It asked for immediate imposition of the code of conduct to build the morale of the common man.
The memorandum further urged the Election Commission to ensure that senior positions in civil and police administration are occupied by neutral and fair officers who are able to withstand extraneous pressures, while pointing out that the ruling combine was, in fact, planning to hold more police recruitments next month to strengthen its control over the police administration ahead of the polls. Cadre posts in the police department should be occupied by only IPS officers “with immediate effect” and officers posted as SP, DSP, SHO and Munshi, who have completed two years in a range, should be transferred out to other ranges, and not within the same, it further said.
Deployment of paramilitary forces in the inner cordon of 500 meters of the polling stations, as well as ensuring that political parties do not set up polling booths in this cordon are some of the other measures suggested by the Punjab Congress, which also sought external supervision of the paramilitary.
The party has also suggested deputation of neutral senior officers with EC officers/observers, with local administrative staff and Anganwadi/contractual/ad-hoc government officers being kept away from election duties.
Pointing out that the ruling alliance had put all important departments in the state under Halqa incharges, who are actually office-bearers of their parties, the Punjab Congress asked for disbanding of this `illegitimate’ practice and a complete overhauling of the system. All police officers who have served in a district for at least two years in the last five years should not be allowed to continue there during the election period.
Further, said the memorandum, EVMs available in Punjab should not be used for polling, and a Special Task Force (STF), independent of local police and civil administration, should be set up in each constituency to check distribution of drugs, liquor and money before and during the elections.
Other suggested measures include immediate ban on issue of fire arm licences, as well as ban on uni-poles and hoardings etc displaying SAD-BJP government achievements. The Congress has also suggested immediate ban on transfers by state administration, without prior approval by the Election Commission. The memorandum also demanded that the issuance of blue ration cards, as part of a scheme introduced on the recommendation of the Akali-BJP combine, should be done only to genuine users, without any political pressure.
The Congress has also requested the Election Commission to allow it to appoint Booth Level Agents to check malpractices in the preparation of electoral rolls and has sought third party review and scrutiny of the rolls to check and delete bogus votes.
For more news updates Follow and Like us on Facebook