Chief election commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi on Thursday said the Mukhmantri Tirath Yatra scheme of the Punjab government would continue, but no one could take political advantage out of it.
On the second day of his two-day tour to Chandigarh, Zaidi, however, failed to specify who would make the list of beneficiaries.
With an eye on the 2017 assembly polls, the state government had launched the pilgrimage scheme on January 1, 2016, with a budget of Rs 148 crore.
Under the scheme, the pilgrims from the state were taken to Hazur Sahib, Maharashtra; Ajmer sharif and Salasar in Rajasthan and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
Since the launch of the scheme, the deputy commissioners have been making lists of the beneficiaries in consultation with the halqa in-charges and MLAs of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance.
Taking a tough stand, Zaidi said that halqa in-charges will not be allowed to unduly influence officials and disturb the level playing field. If need be, reshuffle of lower-level officials will be done within the districts.
ON ATTA-DAL SCHEME
Making the stand of the election commission (EC) clear on the state government’s atta-dal scheme in which wheat flour and lentils are given to below the poverty line (BPL) beneficiaries, Zaidi said, “The staff of the state food and civil supplies department would distribute atta and dal but there should be no interference by the political representative of any party.”
Notably, opposition parties have complained to the EC that the state government was distributing atta and dal to the beneficiaries even after imposition of model code of conduct for the February 4 assembly polls.
Acting on the complaint, Zaidi announced to ban the ration cards bearing photographs of political personalities. These cards carry the photos of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and food and civil supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon.
During their two-day stay in Chandigarh, Zaidi and his team of senior EC officials reviewed poll preparedness with DCs, SSPs, DIGs and IGs. He also met chief secretary, home secretary and Punjab police director general and officials of the income tax department, narcotics control bureau and the excise department involved in the poll process.
COMPLAINT AGAINST MANN
Replying to media queries, Zaidi said the EC had received complaints against Bhagwant Mann, AAP candidate from Jalalabad, for inciting the people to attack Akali leaders with stones, and it was examined by the EC team.
He refused of having received any complaint against union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal an DGP Punjab Suresh Arora filed by the AAP.
Seizures made by EC till Wednesday
Cash: Rs 3.39 crore
Liquor: 14,273 bottles (worth Rs 14.27 lakh)
Opium: 37 kg (Rs 37 Lakh)
Poppy husk: 3,777 kg (Rs 1.51 crore)
Heroin: 25 kg (Rs 62.5 crore)
(8 persons held in connection with seizures)
Other poll-related figures
2,42,387 arms, which constitute 63% of the total licensed weapons, deposited
4,000 polling stations to have videography facility
72 surprise nakas set up on international borders
7 round-the-clock control rooms; toll-free number to contact 1800180-9699
4 air intelligence units operational at Mohali, Bhatinda, Ludhiana and Amritsar airports