Terming the election process a "sham", the defeated candidate and former president Kamaljeet Singh Hayre on Sunday announced that he would challenge the election results pertaining to presidentship of the NRI Sabha, Punjab in the Punjab and Haryana high court soon.
Hayre, who was defeated by Jasvir Singh Gill by a margin of 197 votes, alleged that the voter list was fudged to suit Gill’s interests.
“A large section of Punjabis, who had visited Dubai or Gulf countries for small time employment or on visitor visas, had been wrongly enrolled as members of the sabha. How can a person, who visited Dubai 10 years back for some time, claims himself or herself as an NRI? More than 800 ineligible persons were enrolled as voters at Gill’s behest just to highjack the election process,” Hayre alleged.
Hayre said that Gill paid over Rs. 40 lakhs as fee for getting 800 people enrolled as members despite they were ineligible as per the constitution.
“Those living in foreign countries should only be treated as NRIs and they should have been entitled to right to vote. I will challenge the election process in the court and this election should be declared null and void,” he demanded.
Interestingly, Hayre group did not submit any objections during scheduled period from January 1 to 8 even as the sabha authorities had extended opportunity to all stakeholders to do the same after uploading draft of electoral rolls on its official website on December 31.
Earlier, a section of Hayre group members met the assistant returning officer-cum-SDM Iqbal Singh Sandhu to lodge their objections on allowing a section of voters reportedly returned from Gulf countries to get enrolled as members. “They should not be allowed to cast the votes since they are not the NRIs,” they alleged.
Sandhu, however, clarified that the poll officials were provided with the voters lists by the sabha authorities. “We cannot remove anyone’s name from the list at this juncture even as we are not competent to revise the list as well. The sabha authorities should be contacted for any clarifications on this issue,” he added.
Meanwhile, Holland based Surinder Singh Rana alleged that though he was one of the founder members and established Europe unit of the sabha several years back, but his name was missing from the voters list. “I condemn this election process. How can my name be deleted from the voters list while I am the international director of the sabha?” he alleged.
Balwinder Singh Saini, a German resident, alleged that ineligible Gulf countries returned people were falsely enrolled as members. “This has put a question mark on the poll process,” Saini alleged.
Refuting the allegations, Gill said that these Gulf countries returned people were also covered under the definition of the NRI as mentioned in the sabha constitution. “Besides, it’s not fair to treat them as second class citizens in our country. They too are the NRIs. We should not discriminate against them on the basis of their country of stay in the past,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pritam Singh Naurangpur, who stood at third slot, said that the state government has conducted the elections in a free and fair manner. “I accept my defeat and will not approach any court,” he added.