Chandigarh, December 31: As expected, the ruling Congress today swept the panchayat elections in Punjab, which saw a heavy turnout of 80 per cent. The polling percentage in Bathinda and Fazilka was 86, Mohali 84, Pathankot 82, Patiala and Sangrur 81, Moga 78, Fatehgarh Sahib 77.20 and Muktsar 77.92.
The Akalis alleged the polls were rigged. In Badal village, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s relative Udayveer Dhillon lost to a Congress-backed candidate for the post of sarpanch. The entire Badal clan had descended on the village to cast their vote.
Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala’s mother Charan Kaur was elected sarpanch in Mansa’s Moosa village.
Kiranbeer Kaur, sister-in-law of former AAP state president Sukhpal Khaira, lost the election for sarpanch. So did co-opted SGPC member Karnail Singh Panjauli from Sanjauli in Fatehgarh Sahib.
There were reports of minor skirmishes. Unidentified persons set a ballot box ablaze at Lakhmir Ke Uthar village in Mamdot block of Ferozepur. As they fled, their Scorpio ran over a voter, identified as Mohinder Singh (60), who died on the spot.
Reports of alleged booth-capturing were received from Moga, Patiala, Ferozepur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Amritsar. At least 12 clashes were reported from Jhugiyan, Raipur Mandlan, Tharehi Jattan and Marda Hehri villages in Patiala district. Two FIRs were registered.
After ‘outsiders’ allegedly trooped inside a polling booth in Fatehpur Garhi village near Rajpura, irate villagers vandalised vehicles of poll officials. Three persons were injured in Patiala’s Hira Garh village.
The Akalis blocked the Patiala-Rajpura highway alleging inaction by the police. Also, shots were fired into the air to scare away voters in Bausarh Kalan village in Sanaur sub-division.
Mullanpur Dakha in Ludhiana also witnessed several incidents of booth-capturing. Akali leader Sucha Singh Langah raised a ruckus at Shakri village in the Dera Baba Nanak Assembly constituency. There was tension in Bharoana village of Sultanpur Lodhi in Jalandhar folowing a SAD-Congress clash. Three persons, carrying pistols, were arrested.
Supporters of two Congress workers, Robert Masih and Harpal Singh, contesting for the post of sarpanch, hurled stones at each other in Bhojian village in Tarn Taran district. Rureassal and Dhul Dhaiwala villages in the district also saw clashes. Elections were held for 13,726 panchayats. As many as 46,754 panches of a total 83,831 were elected unopposed.
Poll officers who were suspended for “not performing” their duties included the Presiding Officer at Bassi Pathana, Sukhwinder Singh; the Executive Officer of the Ballianwala panchayat in Bathinda, Charan Das; and the Headmaster of Government High School, Daun Kalan (Patiala), AS Brar.
Secretary of the State Election Commission Kamal Garg said the elections were largely peaceful and that FIRs had been filed in Patiala and Tarn Taran districts. He said besides Mamdot, repolling would be held at places where complaints were found to be “genuine”.
Source Tribune India