After days of silence, the BJP on Friday drew its cudgel to defend its MLA Anil Joshi against the Congress allegations that the minister got a large number of bogus votes enrolled in the Amritsar North assembly segment.
The local body minister has won the last two consecutive elections from the Amritsar North segment.
The other allegation against Joshi - "violation" of "constitutional norms" by being enrolled as a voter from two different places during the 2007 and 2012 assembly polls - was also dismissed by the BJP, terming it a "propaganda material to defame the minister".
The allegation was levelled by two city-based lawyers - Sandeep Gorsi and Vineet Mahajan- before the Election Commission of India (ECI), which in turn directed the Punjab chief electoral officer (CEO) on January 27 to file a complaint against the minister under Sections 17, 18 and 31 of the Representation of Peoples Act (RP Act).
Describing both allegations as "baseless", Punjab BJP spokesperson RPS Maini claimed that at the time of the 2012 assembly polls, Joshi was enrolled as a voter only from the Amritsar North constituency, from which he contested and won. While the address given by the minister in the electoral rolls is of his Medical Enclave residence, he added.
Maini distributed copies of the electoral rolls bearing that Joshi, his wife and mother had enrolled as voters on the Medical Enclave address in 2006, which then was a part of the Amritsar West assembly segment. However, the address remained the same when Medical Enclave became a part of the Amritsar North constituency after the 2008 delimitation.
The BJP spokesman also distributed copies of the 2006 electoral rolls showing Joshi, his wife Monica and mother Pushpa as voters from Panj Peer, Golden Avenue - the place from where Joshi was first registered as a voter after moving out of Tarn Taran, his ancestral town. However, Panj Peer later became a part of the Amritsar North constituency from where Joshi contested his first assembly election in 2007.
Maini produced another copy of the electoral rolls to prove that Joshi, his wife and mother ceased to be voters from Panj Peer in 2008, which later became a part of the newly-created Amritsar East segment.
"I want to convey to the Congress and all others that Joshi had only one vote when he contested the elections in 2012. He was listed as a voter from his Medical Enclave address and from no other place," stated Maini.
However, when reporters pointed out that the documents produced by Karamjit Singh Rintu clearly showed Joshi to be a voter from two places - Panj Peer area and Medical Enclave - during the February 2007 polls, Maini said: "Yes, we were not aware of Joshi being enrolled as a voter from Panj Peer. When we came to know, we got those votes deleted and he had only one vote in the 2012 elections."
Reacting to the BJP's claims, Gorsi and Mahajan said: "We will prove our charges against Joshi to the media during our next meeting in a day or two. We stand by our claims."
However, on the allegations that Joshi got enrolled as a bogus voter from the Amritsar North segment, Maini said: "This charge is levelled by a frustrated person, Karamjit Singh Rintu of the Congress, who had lost to Joshi by a huge margin in 2012."