Punjab civic polls: Now Congress gives Akalis a taste of ‘power play’
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Punjab civic polls: Now Congress gives Akalis a taste of ‘power play’

From absence of executive officers, to non-issuance of certificates, to ‘unfair’ rejecting nominations of rival parties, Congress faces same charges it accused Akalis of as opposition.

punjab Updated: Dec 07, 2017 09:35 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Akalis,Punjab civic polls,Congress
Congress’ Poonam Umat with supporters after filing her nomination papers for MC polls at the SDM office in Amritsar.(Sameer Sehgal/HT)

With the ruling Congress having higher stakes in the December 17 municipal polls to show that its popularity is not on the downswing, the old tricks of winning the game are back.

On the last day of filing nomination papers for elections to three municipal corporations and 32 nagar councils and panchayats, gunshots boomed in Ferozepur district over non-grant of no-dues certificates, and Akalis and Congressmen clashed in Baghapurana and Ghanaur too.

In their appeal to state election commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu on Wednesday, the SAD demanded that polls in all these four areas be countermanded. At Makhu and Mallanwala in Zira assembly segment, the Akalis claimed that none of their party candidates was given no-dues certificate to contest the nagar panchayat polls owing to absence of executive officers (EOs) from duty.

Both Makhu and Mallanwala have 13 seats each. The Congress was able to file nominations on all, and so were 12 and 13 independents respectively. One seat in Makhu just has a Congress candidate who gets to be the winner unanimously.

When contacted, Makhu EO Sharanjit Kaur denied the allegation and said she was on duty all the past three days. “I am not aware of whether a candidate is from Congress or Akali Dal. We gave the certificates to all who came. It has to be verified from various departments. A candidate has to clear all dues of the local body, be it property or house tax, water and sewerage dues, or dues for using its properties for advertisement,” she said.

The Mallanwala EO could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

SAD vice-president Daljit Singh Cheema apprehends that “wrongful” rejection of nominations would be next. “We fear they would tear or remove no-dues certificates of candi-dates to disqualify them at the scrutiny stage, so that they go unopposed or don’t face competition,” he said.

Role reversal

When the Akalis were in power, it was the Congress that had alleged their nominations were “withdrawn” without their knowledge in civic polls.

They too had alleged that EOs were not present to hand over no-dues certificates or “they tore them off” to reject nominations. In the block samiti polls in 2014 at Kotkapura, nominations of Congress candidates were rejected for non-payment of ‘tooti’ tax — a levy paid for getting water supply connection for installing a tap — of even those who did not have a tap at home. The Congress had called the elections a farce.

But Cheema claims the Congress never produced proof of any such allegation.

“We have given the state poll commission video recordings and we are naming officials, and how they (government) posted SHOs on day of announcement of polls in Makhu and Mallanwala. Did Congress ever prove if and when we misused power and how?” he said.

First Published: Dec 07, 2017 08:48 IST