Haryana’s state-run banks and electricity department are making the most of the helplessness of the panchayat election aspirants, forcing them to clear the dues of even anyone mentioned on the same ration card or living in the same house.
A lack of awareness and the haste to get no-dues certificates before the nomination date have forced the contenders to make rounds of the co-operative and land-mortgage banks and the power department. The state election commission and the Haryana co-operation department authorities claim to be concerned with the no-dues of only the nominees. “But,” said state election commissioner Rajeev Sharma, “we don’t know what directions the state government has issued to its banks and the electricity department.”
The aspirants complain that ground-level officers of the state co-operative societies and land-mortgage banks are compelling them to clear all the pending loans of their close relatives. “I had to clear a Central Co-operative Bank loan of `29,000 pending against my late grandfather, Rambhaj, for getting no-dues certificate for my wife, Deepa, who is running for sarpanch,” said Sunil Jaglan, sarpanch of Jind’s Bibipur village.
“My family did not have any pending loan, but the bank took its time to verify whether anyone mentioned on our ration had any dues,” said Narender Kumar, who is contesting a zila parishad seat from Rohtak’s Ward 7. Asked to react, Haryana Co-operative Societies registrar Pankaj Agarwal said: “The order is to check only aspirants for pending loan, but you can give me the names of the co-operative societies forcing people to clear the dues of others.”
A senior officer in the co-operation department said on the condition of anonymity that the government had tweaked the election Act to recover bad debt, though it had no written clause requiring nominees to clear the pending loans of entire family. Dev Dutt, contesting block samiti seat from Rohtak’s ward 18, said: “I had to give the electricity department the details of the pending bills of my four brothers.” Asked to react, Uttar Haryana Bijali Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) chief engineer (Rohtak circle) SK Bansal said the no-dues certificate was easy to secure, if the aspirants proved that they had no pending bills, no matter who owned the meter that recorded their consumption, and where it was installed.