Chandigarh: AAP and Congress leaders on Sunday separately met the visiting team of Election Commission in Chandigarh and expressed apprehension about misuse of state machinery in Punjab Assembly polls, with Congress seeking immediate imposition of model code to ensure a free and fair election.
A delegation of the state unit of Congress, led by Vice President Amar Singh, met the nine-member EC team, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, which arrived in Chandigarh on Sunday on a three-day visit to review election preparations.
They urged EC to immediately impose the Code of Conduct in Punjab to ensure a free and fair election, citing "total politicisation of the state's administrative and law and order machinery".
Conveying their "apprehensions" to the EC, the Congress leaders called for immediate imposition of the Code of Conduct to bring the "deteriorating" political situation in the state under some control.
The model code of conduct comes into force immediately with the announcement of election.
The delegation also asked the EC to take measures to ensure there is no "misuse" of the state machinery by the Siromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership.
They also demanded an independent third-party review and scrutiny of the voter lists, which had been prepared and revised by Anganwadi workers and were "replete with bogus voter names".
The Congress leaders also highlighted to the EC the issue of "politicisation of the media".
AAP asks EC to disallow symbols similar to broom
Meanwhile, a delegation of AAP led by its legal cell head Himmat Singh Shergill met the EC team, alleging rampant use of money and muscle power during elections.
"It is a track record in Punjab elections that there is a rampant use of money and muscle power to win elections. And the government machinery is also misused for the distribution of cash to voters near elections," Shergill alleged.
"We have urged the Commission to deploy paramilitary forces in strength before elections in the state in order to stop this illegal practice for ensuring free and fair polls," he said.
AAP, which is eyeing to wrest power from SAD-Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) regime, urged the EC not to allot an election symbol to any party which is similar to its own symbol — "broom".
"We have sought that any symbol which looks similar to our symbol "broom" like a torch and others should not be issued to any party," he said.
The EC team will tomorrow have a meeting with Deputy Commissioners, SSPs, nodal officers of narcotic control bureau, state narcotic control bureau, income tax and excise and taxation department.
On the last day of its visit on 25 October, the team will meet Chief Secretary, Director General of Police Punjab and other senior officials and is expected to hold media interaction later that day.
AAP is making its electoral debut in Punjab making the polls a triangular contest with Congress and BJP-SAD alliance already locked in a tight battle for political supremacy.
SAD wants less waiting period
Meanwhile, a delegation of SAD also met the EC here and urged it to minimise the period between the announcement of election and date of polling as well as the period extending from day of polling to the declaration of results.
"Where as the longer duration of code of conduct unnecessary affects the developmental activity of the state and long delays in declaration of results creates a period of uncertainty which is not good for state of Punjab," said the delegation comprising SAD Secretary General Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Party Secretary and spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema.
The SAD urged the EC to curb "the menace of paid news" with a firm hand which is being misused by many parties in the elections.
They also asked the Commission to increase the limit of carrying cash during the period of code of conduct, saying it has been seen in the previous elections that ordinary businessmen faced "harassment" due to the lower limit fixed by the EC at the time of election. "It adversely affected business activity in the state," they said.
They demanded that procedure of taking NOC (no objection certificate) for organising election rallies and other meetings should be simplified so that candidates do not face harassment during election campaign.
The party also brought to the notice of the commission that "certain leaders" of various political parties are indulging in false and malicious campaign amounting to
character assassination of ruling party leaders which should be curbed with firm hands.
The delegation complained about the "threats" being issued by state Congress chief Amarinder Singh to the police officials and other government functionaries with an intention to insult and demoralise them and demanded strict action to stop this without any delay.
The party told the visiting EC team that it will fully cooperate with the Commission in conduct of free and fair elections.
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Updated Date: Oct 23, 2016 22:17:34 IST