Civic-poll candidates face risk of loss of life, property: Punjab BJP

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Chandigarh, Feb 10 (PTI) The BJP claimed on Wednesday that its candidates for the municipal polls in Punjab faced the 'risk' of loss of life and property, accusing the Congress government of unleashing 'hooliganism' to prevent saffron party's nominees from canvassing.

Seeking deployment of paramilitary forces for free and fair elections, BJP state president Ashwani Sharma also accused the State Election Commission and the police chief of having 'failed' to perform their duties.

Sharma alleged that the ruling Congress was misusing the government machinery to 'loot' the municipal polls, which will be held on Sunday.

'Democracy is also in danger here. BJP candidates face the risk of loss of life and property,' Sharma said at a press conference in Chandigarh. 'If anybody will be responsible for this, then it will only be the chief minister. He cannot escape from his responsibility.' 'You are indulging in hooliganism under the guise of farmers. You get party offices shut and prevent (our candidates) from campaigning,' Sharma said.

The BJP leader's accusation came a day after his vehicle was allegedly attacked by some unidentified people with sticks and rods in Ferozepur, where he had gone there for a meeting with local party workers.

Sharma said the state government seemed to have forgotten that it was its primary responsibility to maintain law and order, and ensure safety of candidates before announcing the civic polls.

'These are not elections. It seems democracy has been held captive by the Congress-led government,' he said. 'It seems the Congress does not have faith in voters, but the ruling party feels it can loot these elections by misusing police and administration.' Sharma claimed that several of their candidates in Ferozepur, Zira and Ajnala were either prevented from filing nomination papers or their papers were rejected.

'Issuing threats, attacking candidates, preventing candidates from canvassing... what kind of democracy is here? What kind of government is this?' he asked.

Sharma condemned Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's remarks a day ago, asking him whether he wanted to instigate miscreants.

'Does such a statement behove a CM?' he asked.

On Tuesday, Singh had said: 'You (BJP), along with your allies and ex-allies like the Akalis, conspired to snatch the last morsel of food from those very farmers who keep you well-fed and satiated. And you want these farmers to welcome you with garlands of flowers?' The chief minister had said the BJP was facing the 'spontaneous anger' of farmers and rejected as 'hilarious' its claims that the protesters were not farmers, but Congress workers.

Elections to the eight municipal corporations and 109 municipal councils and nagar panchayats in the state will be held on February 14. PTI CHS VSD HMB