Amid extensive electioneering in the district, a candidate of a social organisation and a social activist have registered complaints of gross violation of provisions of the model code of conduct against the Congress and BJP leaders in Mandi on Saturday.
PRISM, a social organisation that has fielded Lawan Thakur, has submitted a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI), alleging that Congress leaders were flouting norms and the district administration was working under the government's pressure and overlooking those violations intentionally.
Thakur alleged that Congress leaders, including chief minister Virbhadra Singh and a few BJP leaders, had occupied Circuit House and other rest houses of the town and surrounding areas during campaigning and the government accommodations had turned into party campaigning offices, which was banned by the ECI.
He demanded immediate transfer of the Mandi deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer, Devesh Kumar, as he had failed to implement norms of the model code of conduct.
“Here ignorance is a curse, not bliss. If the returning officer deliberately ignores facts and accommodates political leaders in all manners then how can anyone expect free and fair elections,” said Lawan.
He alleged that media-monitoring committee had just become a handicapped body and failed to detect paid news. He said it should be set up at the district level because many Hindi vernaculars were issuing local issues and it was not possible for a single monitoring committee to inspect paid news of six districts of the constituency.
Demanding more police and vigilance teams in the area, he alleged that both the parties were spending money lavishly and expenses over their vehicles used in electioneering and propaganda material needed to checked.
“Most of the vehicles used in the election have not been registered with the returning officer as per the clause of the ECI and practice has deliberately been done by political leaders to show minimum expenses over the vehicles, whereas it is the duty of the administration to keep a record of the same to enter expenses in the party candidate expenditure,” Thakur said.
Lakshmender Guleria, social activist, submitted his complaint along with photo proofs to the returning officer, alleging that the BJP offered common feast of meat and rice after former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal addressed a public meeting at Kahanwal area, 12 km from here, on Thursday.
“I informed the Mandi deputy commissioner and requested him to send flying squad at the spot to verify the facts. Organising common feast to woo voters is against the norms and I expect the returning officer to act against the erring political party leaders for the sake of the democratic values” he added.
When Hindustan Times tried to contact the Mandi DC at his office for details, a woman officer who attended the call said that he was busy in a meeting. Later, nobody attended the call. HT then tried to contact him on his mobile, but the calls went unattended.