Punjab under-prepared for Zila Parishad polls, says Akali Dal

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Chandigarh : The Shiroman Akali Dal (SAD) on Monday urged the State Election Commission (SEC) to ensure that the candidates aspiring to contest from seats reserved for scheduled castes and backward classes (SCs and BCs) for the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samitis are issued required caste certificates at the earliest, so that no aspirant is deprived of his right to contest.

In letter written to the Commission, SAD spokesman and senior vice president Daljeet Singh Cheema pointed out that the elections were announced on August 29 in the afternoon and publicised the next day through newspapers.

"Since then the government offices in the state are closed and would open on Tuesday - September 4, when the process of nomination would begin, leaving the aspirant with no time to obtain mandatory certificates," he pointed out.

Cheeema said that all officers concerned from District Magistrate down to Kanungo and Patwari be directed to ensure that such certificates are delivered instantly.

"If this is not possible, the candidates should be allowed to file nominations along with an affidavit with an explicit provision to submit such caste certificates later," he said.

Expressing shock and surprise, Cheema said that district administration notified the reserved for SCs and BCs for the ensuing polls only after announcement of the polls schedule.

"Moreover, the voting lists are not available till date to political parties. How can anybody file without cross-checking his name on the voters' list?" Cheema asked.

"This hasty action only smacks of a conspiracy of the ruling party Congress to deny opportunity to the rivals to contest the polls by denying their candidates the mandatory certificates and the Commission has willy-nilly become a partner in this nefarious game of the ruling party," he alleged.

Cheema also said that the Commission had announced the poll schedule in gross violation of established precedent of convening an all-party meeting to have their inputs on the poll arrangement and instead totally relied on the reports of the ruling Congress or state administration.

Punjab has a Congress government since March 2017.