The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has expressed grave concern over the use of government machinery and bullying by the ruling Congress party to win the upcoming Municipal Corporation, Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat elections in the state. Under this, a delegation of the AAP leaders led by senior leader of the party and Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Punjab Assembly, Harpal Singh Cheema, on Thursday met the State Election Commissioner and raised the issue of providing security to the party candidates for the forthcoming municipal bodies' elections and demanded deployment of paramilitary forces for smooth completion of election process and safety of the people of Punjab.The AAP delegation handed over a memorandum to the State Election Commissioner mentioning the ordeal faced by the Aam Aadmi Party candidates, all over Punjab, following the municipal bodies' elections process. Addressing the media on the occasion, Harpal Singh Cheema said that several incidents at various districts across the state were reported in which the ruling party committed blatant hooliganism, intimidated and prevented AAP candidates from filing the nomination papers, thus assassinating democracy. "The law and order situation in the state has been completely destroyed and safety of the people of Punjab and the candidates ahead of the forthcoming municipal bodies' elections is at risk," said Cheema.He said that the bullying was prevalent at various places including Jalalabad, Guru Har Sahai, Zira, Ferozepur , Jagraon, Sunam, Bhikhiwind, Kot Ise Khan, among others. Cheema said that in Jalalabad, the ruling Congress party, with the help of police, snatched the nomination papers of AAP candidates and threatened them to kill. "All 17 candidates from respective wards of Jalalabad along with their lawyers while waiting for the SDM to arrive were ambushed by a mob and their nomination papers and other documents were snatched," he added.
Cheema said that the candidates were threatened with filing their nominations and the issue was raised with the local SHO for filing an FIR.The AAP leader said that similarly, in the municipal council of Guru Har Sahai, the doors of the SDM office were closed and the AAP candidates were not allowed inside the office premises for filing the nomination papers in sheer misuse of power. Cheema said that in Zira, the Congress candidates were visiting the houses of the AAP candidates along with police and were threatening them not to file their nomination papers. "The police under the influence of the local MLA were threatening our candidates. The Congress workers also intimidated and tore the nomination papers of AAP candidates in Zira on the last day of the nomination process," he added.Also in the municipal council of Ferozepur, AAP candidates, while making their way inside the SDM office were ambushed by some miscreants and their nomination papers and other documents were snatched, said Cheema. He said that in Jagraon, AAP's candidate was also threatened and intimidated by the ruling party leaders and their 'goons'. "Our candidate was threatened at his residence and was forced to not contest the forthcoming municipal bodies' elections," he said, adding that further violating the democratic values and breach of peace, the ruling Congress party workers also kidnapped one of the AAP candidates at Sunam on the last day of nominations on Wednesday.Cheema said that the misuse of power and government resources by the ruling party was thus reprehensible and oppressive. "At all the places where the incidents of bullying are reported, the police under the influence of the local MLAs threatened the AAP candidates to prevent them from filing the nominations and contest the MC elections," he added. To avoid such hooliganism and bullying ahead of the MC elections, the AAP delegation requested the State Election Commissioner to take necessary action ensuring smooth completion of the election process."We have asked the State Election Commission to provide protection to our candidates, so that they can contest the forthcoming municipal bodies' elections without any fear," said Cheema. He said that the AAP had also demanded the deployment of paramilitary forces for the safety of the people of Punjab and for free and fair elections. On the occasion, the AAP delegation including Raj Lalli Gill, Santokh Singh Salana, Advocate Govinder Mittal, Parminder Singh Jaswal and Adv. Bhuvan Bhalla among others were present.