Civic polls: Pb govt sponsoring protests to stop BJP candidates from campaigning, says party chief

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Chandigarh, Feb 9 (PTI) Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma on Tuesday accused the Amarinder Singh-led government of organising protests under the guise of farmers' agitation to 'prevent' candidates of the saffron party from campaigning ahead of the February 14 civic polls.

Sharma said democracy was being held “hostage” by the Congress-led regime in the state.

“There was no freedom for filing nomination papers. Our candidates are not able to conduct door-to-door canvassing for the municipal bodies elections at many places,” said Sharma while replying to a question on a protest organised against him in Nawanshahr.

“Protests are being organised. These are government sponsored protests... Democracy is being held hostage by the Amarinder Singh-led government,” alleged Sharma.

Sharma had on Monday cancelled his visit to Nawanshahr after a group of farmers gheraoed the venue where he was supposed to hold a meeting.

Another BJP leader and former Union minister Vijay Sampla had also faced protest by farmers in Moga.

On Saturday, a group of farmers in Hoshiarpur had shouted slogans against the BJP outside a venue where party leaders including Union minister Som Parkash had come for a public meeting.

Farmer leaders have said that they would continue to oppose leaders of the BJP till the Centre repeals the new farm laws.

The Punjab BJP chief further claimed that his party candidates were being issued threats.

“Our candidates are being issued threats. They are asked not to campaign and close their offices,” said Sharma.

He alleged that the state election commission has remained a “mute spectator” to what was happening in the run up to the civic polls.

“The SEC remains a mute spectator. Cannot it see what is happening in the state,” he asked.

“If the SEC cannot ensure safety of candidates and freedom for campaigning and create a conducive atmosphere, then why are they holding these polls,” he rued. The BJP is contesting the civic polls alone after the Shiromani Akali Dal walked out of the alliance over the farmers' issues.

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 RHL