People's Party of Punjab president Manpreet Singh Badal has demanded an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court into the alleged misuse of government machinery in the recently held rural local bodies' elections.
"We demand an inquiry from a high court judge into the large-scale misuse of government machinery, rigging, violence and violation of code in the block samiti and zila parishad elections. We have no hope from the Punjab election commission of any justice or fair inquiry into the matter," said Manpreet while addressing a press conference here on Thursday.
The Sanjha Morcha organised a state-level protest dharna in front of the mini-secretariat, where CPI leaders Joginder Dayal, Bant Brar and Hardev Arshi, CPM leader Lehmbar Singh Taggar and SAD (Longowal) leader Baldev Singh Mann addressed the gathering.
"What is the message you are giving to political parties like us if the government machinery is working hand in glove with the ruling party to win the election. Is this your election management," Manpreet asked the Punjab election commission.
Taking a dig at deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Manpreet said, "The mentality of Sukhbir Badal is just like if someone has been directly appointed a thanedar or a head constable in police and does not have enough experience to wield the power. He doesn't have enough respect for democracy to deliver upon its expectations."
In a memorandum sent to the governor through the Bathinda administration, Manpreet objected to the role of Bathinda police into the case of attack on Lakhbir Singh Lakha Sidhana and death of another party worker. Manpreet alleged, "The Bathinda SSP did not meet the victims, but outside the hospital he started claiming that it was a personal rivalry. The police are responsible for this attack and we will do everything to get justice."
Manpreet also listed the hurdles created by the Bathinda administration into Thursday's PPP dharna.
On the Maan village violence, Manpreet said, "Section 144 imposed in Maan village of Lambi should be lifted immediately. I request chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to plead guilty to the villagers for the harassment and violence they faced at the hands of administration and Akali workers. There is nothing wrong in saying sorry to the villagers for the injustice done to them."
Talking about the positives from the elections, he said, "People resisted the suppression by Akalis and government machinery and SAD candidates have won with thin margins despite full support of the government machinery."
When asked if the inactive Congress will help the Sanjha Morcha gain strength in the coming parliamentary elections, CPI leader Joginder Dayal said, "We do not claim that people are rushing towards us. But people will naturally support those who will stand with them in difficult times."
On sangat darshan programmes, Manpreet said, "Sangat darshan is political bribery. There should be audit of the money distributed in the sangat darshan programmes by the Controller and Auditor General of India."
Bhagwant Mann takes potshots at ruling party
While the other leaders of the Sanja Morcha failed to connect with the supporters outside the mini-secretariat as the police did not allow a proper stage and the use of a loudspeaker, comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann charged the atmosphere with his speech targeting the Badal family.
"Parkash Singh Badal has called the elections a victory of democracy, but he himself did not vote," said Mann.
"Akalis are killing on an average one ASI per month. Under such pathetic conditions, you are working. So never follow the orders of the dictators blindly," said Mann while addressing the large number of police personnel present at the dharna.
"There are around 25 CID officials covering our dharna. Let us give them some space so that they can note down things properly. May they help us make our voice reach the government," said Mann taking a dig at the intelligence officials.
"The parameters to get jobs in Punjab have changed. Now, you get job if someone from your family is assaulted or killed either by Akalis or by the government machinery. Now, the government wants us to get our sisters assaulted to claim jobs; the youth should ask their parents to get killed by Akalis so that they could get jobs in compensation," said Mann.
Sanjha Morcha meeting on May 25
CPI national executive member Joginder Dayal said the Sanjha Morcha had convened a meeting in Chandigarh on May 25 to chalk out further strategy. Dayal gave a call to all like-minded parties and people to attend it to save Punjab as the "prevailing anarchy and deteriorating law and order" might push the state into dark days once again. He urged the Centre to minutely watch the developments in the state.