The Congress, which has asked for the resignation of local bodies and medical education minister Anil Joshi on a charge of fabricating vote record, on Thursday questioned his methods in winning the Amritsar North assembly seat in January 2012.
Punjab Congress secretary Karamjit Singh Rintu, who has laid the charge almost two years after Joshi defeated him by nearly 16,000 votes, said he had been busy collecting evidence.
The first document he placed before the media was the electoral rolls of 2008 and 2012, showing a jump in the voter number from 1.36 lakh to 1.63 lakh (an increase of 27,000). "This kind of increase was not witnessed in any of the 117 assembly segments," said Rintu, adding that the 2008 rolls were prepared after delimitation.
To further support his claims, Rintu produced the voter lists of 2008 and 2012 of other segments. The increase was nearly 14,000 in Amritsar East, 12,000 in Amritsar South, 6,700 in Bhoa, and 10,000 Dinanagar.
"Why such a huge increase in Amritsar North is what I ask the Election Commission of India (ECI), Punjab election officials, and Amritsar district administration that prepared the rolls," said the Congress leader, pointing to the ECI standard estimate that voter count in each assembly segment will increase by a maximum of 3% in three years.
Rintu, who says outsiders were listed as voters in Amritsar North, also undertook a door-to-door survey of 51 booths with his supporters and claimed to have identified 5,797 voters who did not exist at the given addresses. "I challenge the election authorities of Punjab to prove me wrong," he said, adding: "The survey is only for 51 of the 182 booths."
The surveyed areas included Medical Enclave, where Joshi stays with family. Rintu said that a year ago, he had sought the electoral rolls dating to time just before the 2012 contest under the Right to Information (RTI) Act but these had "not been submitted till date".
"It points to just one thing: that the authorities want to hide the facts. Already, the ECI has indicted Joshi for fabricating vote records of self and family," he claimed, threatening to take his findings to the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Punjab.
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Joshi's personal assistant, Rakesh Mintoo, speaking on the minister's behalf, refuted the allegations of the Congress leader as the grumblings of a man defeated by a convincing margin. "Why question the minister, since he is not in charge of revising the electoral rolls. If Rintu has to question someone, he should ask the officials who were in charge," he added.