The Punjab Congress on Thursday accused the SAD-BJP government of adopting an illegal and wrongful methodology for forming wards for the forthcoming panchayat polls.
An urgent meeting of the state Congress committee, set up to "fight irregularities" committed by the ruling alliance in the formation of panchayat wards, was held at the Congress Bhawan here on Thursday.
Members alleged at the meeting that gross high-handedness, illegalities and wrongful methodology had been adopted by the government while forming panchayat wards.
Members accused the government of violating its own guidelines and directions under pressure from Akali sarpanches and jathedars. As a result, objections have been filed in more than 8,000 of the 12,800 panchayats against the "biased and partisan" formation of wards.
Committee convener Sukhpal Singh Khaira and chairman Jeet Mohinder Singh said as per the guidelines, the natural principle of contiguity was to be followed while forming the wards. However, a majority of the wards had been formed by flouting this principle and "cutting, pasting and copying" houses from far-flung areas.
"The rule of contiguity has been flouted to give an Akali colour to the wards so that the ruling party can easily capture the panchayat elections. The most aggrieved people could not file their objections before the SDMs in time because the list of proposed wards was not displayed at the village level," Khaira and Jeet Mohinder said later at a press briefing.
Similarly, as per directions, wards were supposed to be formed on the recommendations of elected gram panchayats, but here too, sarpanches belonging to the opposition Congress were ignored as jathedars ruled the roost. The government has also failed to initiate the formation of wards from House No 1, as per the Vidhan Sabha list, and has formed wards selectively to suit vested interests of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Khaira added.
The meeting termed the politicised formation of wards as "rape of grassroots democracy" as the government had thrown all norms and principles to the winds at the whims and fancies of Akali MLAs.
The Congress called upon all deputy commissioners to immediately take corrective measures to ensure fair, transparent and non-partisan formation of wards while hearing objections filed before them. The meeting also decided to take up this issue with the state election commission and the secretary, rural development and panchayats.
Finally, the meeting resolved that in case the government did not make amends, the Congress would be left with no option but to move the Punjab and Haryana high court. The committee would also meet the Punjab governor shortly to apprise him of the "murder of democracy" in Punjab.