EC to monitor Punjab parties 48 hours before polling

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 23, 2014 17:30 hrs

Chandigarh, April 23 (IANS) Organising parties and private functions as a cover-up for entertaining voters will be under the Election Commission's scanner in Punjab 48 hours before the April 30 Lok Sabha polling, officials said Wednesday.

"There is no ban (on holding private parties and functions) but there will be intensive checking to prevent illegal distribution of liquor to bribe the voters on these dates," a spokesman of the election department said here.

"People have been advised to avoid these dates. If not possible to shift the dates, they should intimate the details of function in advance to their ARO (assistant returning officer) to avoid unnecessary complaints and investigation. If they are planning to serve liquor, then they should get appropriate permit from the excise department," the spokesman said.

He clarified there was no ban from the EC on holding private functions April 28 and 29.

All 13 Lok Sabha seats from Punjab go to polls April 30. As many as 253 candidates are in the fray.

The biggest contest is between the BJP's Arun Jaitley and former chief minister and Congress leader Amarinder Singh in Amritsar.

Other big contests are Harsimrat Badal, wife of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's estranged nephew and former finance minister Manpreet Badal in Bathinda.

In Gurdaspur, the BJP's Vinod Khanna is challenging sitting Congress MP and state party chief Pratap Singh Bajwa.

Drugs valued over Rs.731 crore and over 7.5 lakh litres of illicit and country liquor have been seized in the state since March 5.

"The EC has emphasized the need to be more alert during last 48 hours before polling in Punjab, impending chances of distribution of cash/drugs/liquor to woo voters," Punjab Chief Electoral Officer V.K. Singh said here.

Addressing a meeting with Punjab election officers through video-conferencing, EC director general P.K. Dash said: "Keeping in view the tough electoral battle ahead in Punjab, the election machinery should keep close vigil on any attempt to entertain voters under the garb of any family function by throwing lavish party."

He said if anybody was hosting such function during that period (48 hours before polling), he should bring it to the notice of returning officer or the ARO in advance to avoid any harassment.

Singh said special arrangements have been made to handle last 48 hours before polls.

Asking officers to be more pro-active, Dash directed them to even put videography teams, if need be, outside the residences of candidates to check any suspicious activity.

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