Chandigarh: March 14 A meeting of the Congress MLAs and Office Bearers of Pradesh Congress was held here today chaired by Smt. Rajinder Kaur Bhattal President Punjab Congress and Leader of the Congress Legislature Party.
Members expressed apprehensions of large scale bungling in the forthcoming Pancyat elections in the State. In the meeting it was inter alia decided to send a deputation to submit a Memorandum to the State Election Commission. The deputation consisting of S. Pratap Singh Bajwa M.L.A., S. Jagmohan Singh Kang former Minister, S. Gurdeep Singh Bhaini M.L.A. and S. Kuldeep Singh Bhattal M.L.A. and Sh. R.R. Bhardwaj Chairman Economic Planning Cell of the Pradesh Congress, met the Punjab State Election Commissioner Sh. A.K. Dubey and submitted the following Memorandum to him casting doubts of the Party about free and fair elections to the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the State. The State Election Commissioner Mr. Dubey gave a patient hearing to the Deputation and assured them that all appropriate steps would be taken to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in the State.
1. Punjab Pradesh Congress has been consistently of the view that Panchayat elections should be held at a time when the voter is not seriously engaged in any other unavoidable and important socio-economic activity. For example, it should not clash with the harvesting season or with University/Board examinations in the State. It is regretted that in spite of such impediments the ruling Party in the State has hurriedly announced these elections with a deep rooted ulterior and political motive. Although the Congress Party is fully prepared for these elections, yet as a matter of principle strongly condemns this move of the Government because it may not ensure proper and democratic participation of the voters in this grass root election.
2. The Congress Party strongly resent a large number of mala fide moves of the Government for fulfilling their narrow and selfish political ends. These moves unless checked are going to completely vitiate the process of elections thereby killing the true spirit of the democracy in the villages as enshrined in the Constitution through 73rd Amendment made at the instance of late prime Minister Sh. Rajiv Gandhi. The Congress Party through this Memorandum seeks immediate and effective intervention of the State Election Commission regarding certain mala fide moves of the Ruling Party in Punjab which are listed as under:-
1. Article 243© of the Constitution of India clearly states “All the seats in a Panchayat shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election”. No State Law can supersede the provisions of the Constitution and therefore an amendment in the Punjab Panchayti Raj Act to provide for the election of Sarpanches through Panches is strongly resented. Since this provision is ultra virus to the Constitution and has been challenged in the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court by our Party and various other affected sections of the society, the State Election Commission is requested to wait for the decision of the Hon’ble High court before conducting the elections.
2. As per the Rules framed under the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act and as per the provisions of the Act itself the reservation for women and Scheduled Caste were to be made strictly as per the rotation through a roaster. The Congress Party strongly oppose large scale bungling and distortion in the roaster to provide reservation as per their convenience.
3. The Congress Party demands that the voters lists should be accurate and authentic and the ruling party should not be allowed to temper the lists in connivance with the local officials.
d)It is also suggested that nomination forms should be issued and received in the Polling Stations instead of Block Development Office where a mess will be created due to heavy rush. Issue and receiving the nomination forms at Polling Stations itself will also save the candidates from unnecessary botheration. The Nomination forms should be scrutinized at the same place.
e)The election of Sarpanches should also be completed on the same day at the same Polling Station when the election of Panches is held. This will ensure fair election of Sarpanches and will not give much time to the pressure groups to indulge in horse-trading/mal-practices.
f) The Congress Party apprehends large scale bungling and violence during the elections in connivance with the local Govt, machinery . It is demanded para-military forces should be deployed to conduct these elections in a free fair and peaceful manner.
g) The Congress Party demands that no officer belonging to the district should be placed on duty in his home district for the purpose of election duties in order to ensure fair and free elections.
h) Nomination papers should not be rejected on flimsy grounds and in partisan manner.
i) No violation of Model Code of Conduct may be allowed.
The Congress Party requests and hopes that the State Election Commission would take all possible remedial measures keeping in view the contents of this Memorandum to ensure free and fair elections in a time bound manner.