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HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, April 24, 2013
The Punjab Congress on Wednesday demanded the postponement of block samiti and zila parishad elections in the state by at least 15 days for "lack of transparency" in the run-up to the local bodies' polls.
As many as 145 block samitis and 22 zila parishads apart from more than 13,162 panchayats are scheduled to go to polls in May. While zila parishad and block samiti polls would be held on May 12, the panchayats would go for elections from May 26 to May 30.

Addressing a press conference here, Punjab Congress chief spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira pointed out that the state government had issued a draft notification to convert Nadala in Kapurthala district, Bhai Rupa in Bathinda district and Guru Har Sahai in Ferozepur district as nagar panchayats.

" How can the government issue a notification at  the 11th hour to turn three blocks into nagar panchayats when the election process for the block samitis and zila parishads will begin on April 26. The government has not placed the reservation rosters at the block development and panchayat offices (BDPO) of the aforesaid blocks so that both the contestants and the voters could know about the reserved areas which would come under these newly created nagar panchayats," he said.

The Congress leader claimed that the creation of Nadala, Bhai Rupa and Guru Har Sahai nagar panchayats at the last moment smacked of SAD-BJP government's intention to hijack local polls. 

Moreover, he argued, every nagar panchayat ought to have 15 zones whereas Nadala had only 14 zones so far. "Now, when will the government officials create a new zone and from which area? This will destabilise other block samitis as well. Besides, before notifying these nagar panchayats, the officials have not revised the electoral rolls of the area carved out for the same. This entire process will create complete chaos in the state and hence the polls must be postponed for at least 15 days," said Khaira.

The Congress leader maintained that the poll postponement would also help people living in rural areas to better participate in the local polls as they would be free from sale of wheat stocks.

" I have also learnt that the government has not been able to notify elections in five districts of Punjab which would make more difficult for officials to conduct free and fair polls," Khaira claimed.