Last-minute changes in the voter list have left a number of candidates at Tangrali village in Talwandi Sabo fuming.
Bhola Singh, Gurtej Singh and Manpreet Kaur are contesting for the post of panch from wards number 1, 2 and 3, respectively.
Recently, they came to know that the district administration had made changes in the voting list of the village affecting their prospects in the elections scheduled for July 3.
"The voting list attached with the nomination papers has been badly tampered with by the district administration. They have shifted some of the voters to other wards. Our rivals have politically influenced the administration to tamper with the list," said Manpreet Kaur.
She said, "The voters have increased from 114 to 116 in ward number 1 and there are 23 new voters in the list. Similarly, voters of ward number 2 have increased from 85 to 86, 28 of them are new. The voters have increased from 95 to 97 in ward number 3 and 35 of them are new. Two of the five wards have elected their panches unanimously."
"It is a classic case of destroying the campaign by the administration. Our rival candidates had new lists from day one, but we had the old list that was accepted by the returning officer at the time of filing the nominations," said Manpreet.
Bhola Singh said, "Suddenly we have come to know that more than 30% of the voters to whom we were asking for votes all these days are not in our wards. Now we have new voters to woo."
He said, "We are not going to adopt the new voter list and want the administration to hold the elections on the voter list that was accepted during the nominations."
"Under the gram panchayat election rules, and the Punjab State Election Commission Act, no one can change the voter lists after the nomination round is over," said Gurvinder Singh Sidhu, advocate, Punjab and Haryana high court.
Harbhajan Singh, panchayat secretary, said, "We had made the new voter list. But after stiff opposition from some candidates, the administration has decided to conduct the election according to the old list."
Talwandi Sabo SDM Manpreet Chatwal played down the issue. "There was some confusion among the candidates and the matter has been sorted out."
However, candidates are afraid that the administration can force the amended list on them on the day of polling and they have decided to approach the high court. "We are going to file a petition in the high court to put a stay on the election process in the village and first decide on the voter lists relevant in this elections," said Sidhu.