Nomination papers of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) dissident Bhai Baldeep Singh, who had filed his candidature as an independent for the Khadoor Sahib bypoll, were rejected by the returning officer (RO) and sub-divisional officer Ravinder Singh on Thursday. The RO said Bhai Baldeep was not registered in Punjab as a voter — a mandatory requirement under election commission rules.
On Wednesday, when Bhai Baldeep had filed his papers, he was asked to submit the proof of being a registered voter in the state by 11am on Thursday, the last day of scrutiny of nomination papers. In his reply to the RO, Bhai Baldeep said he had applied to get his vote registered at his native Saidpur village in Sultanpur sub-division of Kapurthala.
“The registration process of my vote is on at the Sultanpur Lodhi SDM office and will be completed by Friday (January 29). The decision (rejection of nomination papers) is not as per rules,” he said.
‘Murder of democracy’
Alleging that he had been a victim of a conspiracy by the SAD-BJP regime that did not want him to contest, Bhai Baldeep Singh said the decision was a murder of democracy.
He added he had written a letter to the state chief election commissioner requesting that his case be treated as a ‘special’ instance.
“I am registering my vote in another constituency. My nomination deserves to be treated as a special case, where the last date of scrutiny of application can be extended,” he told journalists at a press conference.
“In the notice issued to me on Wednesday, I was asked to submit the proof of being a voter in the state on the date of scrutiny of the papers, but the date is not mentioned. It means that the date of scrutiny could be extended for a day on the grounds that the last date of withdrawal of papers is January 30. I tried to convince the RO, but failed,” he claimed.
“The RO’s decision is unconstitutional. I had my vote in New Delhi and got it cancelled on January 21. The next day, I applied to be registered as Saidpur in Punjab. My name will be included in the electoral rolls on January 29. Since, the last date of withdrawal of nominations is January 30, the authorities must consider my electoral roll from Saturday.”
The RO, however, denied that there was any political influence.
After the AAP and the Congress backed out of the bypoll, Bhai Baldeep was being seen as a major challenge to SAD candidate Ravinder Brahmpura.
Bhai Baldeep appealed to all other independent candidates to withdraw their nomination in protest against the SAD.
‘May move court’
On what was would be his plan, if EC did not admit his request, he said, “Let the commission reply first. If I am not satisfied, I will explore all options and even move court.”