Punjab government bureaucrats due to retire this month-end are in unusual low spirits. The reason: their much-awaited farewell parties have fallen on a ‘dry’ day. With Punjab going to Lok Sabha polls on April 30, no liquor can be served as per the orders of the Election Commission of India. Expecting the polling to wrap up by 6pm, some babus delayed their farewell dos only to learn that the dry hours have been extended till 10 in the night.
The very thought of bidding adieu after years of “selfless” service without a peg or two saw a few of them approaching the EC with printed cards of the farewell parties and a humble request: a little whiskey and vodka be allowed at their farewell parties. But the commission has refused to oblige, and asked them to delay the farewell parties to after 10pm, if holding one without getting tipsy seems impossible. As such, some government officials are learnt to have postponed their farewells till ‘normalcy’ is restored.
Meanwhile, the land of guzzlers has taken even the EC by surprise. The poll watchdog has seized a record 3 lakh litres of superior imported liquor and nearly 6 lakh bottles of country liquor in the run-up to elections. The figure includes boxes found during raids at stores, houses and godowns after tip-offs.
In the hyper-sensitive Amritsar constituency witnessing a clash between BJP’s Arun Jaitley and Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress, two liquor vends on Sultanwind Road have been sealed after being found to be selling free liquor.
While both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are keeping the EC on toes by shooting off complaints, the ruling SAD said they were all “unsubstantiated and bogus”. SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said the Congress had not been able to prove a single complaint: “They are doing it all just to vitiate the environment.”
DO IT LIKE THE AAP!
It is the EC’s new ally in checking poll code violations. Candidates of the Aam Aadmi Party are shooting off the maximum number of complaints and SMS alerts to the Punjab poll panel.
When it comes to poll freebies, the AAP does it its own way. The party which received a few thousand brooms — its poll symbol — as donations from well-wishers during the road show of party convener Arvind Kejriwal in Ludhiana, distributed them in slums.