Chief election commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi said here on Tuesday that the Khadoor Sahib assembly bypoll would be held by mid-May next year, within six months of the seat falling vacant.
It was in October that the sitting Congress MLA, Ramanjit Singh Sikki, had sent his resignation from the assembly to speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal. However, the seat was formally declared vacant on November 18 after the speaker accepted the resignation. Sikki had quit in protest against the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Baath village in the Khadoor Sahib segment.
In accordance with the rules of the Election Commission (EC), the byelection has to be held on or before May 18.
Addressing a press conference at the end of his two-day visit to the city, Zaidi said the bypoll date would be decided only after receiving an intimation from the office of the Punjab chief electoral officer (CEO).
‘No code violation’
When asked whether the state government was violating the code of conduct by doling out grants for development works in Khadoor Sahib, the CEC replied, “At this stage, we cannot term this as any form of violation and the EC cannot intervene in this matter. Our supervisory role (in the constituency) begins only after the announcement of the bypoll date.”
Asked whether Sikki would be allowed to contest the bypoll as the issue (sacrilege) over which he had resigned was yet to be resolved, Zaidi said, “This matter is being debated upon at various levels. I know that his resignation means that the EC will have to spend a fair amount of money for holding the bypoll. However, as of now, there is no provision in our laws to prevent candidates such as Sikki from contesting the bypoll.”
Revision of electoral rolls
The CEC, who was here to discuss the revision of electoral rolls for the districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur with state CEO VK Singh and other officials, asked them to carry out the process in a transparent manner so as to avoid complaints from political parties. He told officials to ensure that every person attaining the age of 18 years got registered as a voter.
“There is still a gap in the census-electoral rolls ratio and this has to be taken care of by identifying every adult and enrolling him or her as a voter,” he said.
The state CEO, while apprising Zaidi of the ongoing process of updating electoral rolls, said he had asked all deputy commissioners to start a campaign in colleges and universities for encouraging eligible youngsters to get themselves registered as voters.
The CEC also met district-level representatives of various political parties, who made allegations of bogus votes finding their way into electoral rolls. Thereafter, he directed officials to ensure that every bogus vote was deleted. He also told officials to delete names from electoral rolls of all those who had shifted or died.
Zaidi said the EC was considering suggestions to link the registration of births and deaths with the revision of electoral rolls.