Punjab polls: Cong attacks Badal over EC row
The Congress on Tuesday attacked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for criticising the Election Commission.
New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday attacked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for criticising the Election Commission. Irked over Badal's letter to Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi asking election officials in the state "not to overstep their constitutional mandate", Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said "it was the case of the pot calling the kettle black".
Maintaining that he had high regards for the Punjab chief minister, Tewari, however, accused the Punjab government of "transgressing every constitutional norm in the past five years". "They can't lecture the EC as they (the Badals) converted the political system into their family affair," he said.
Meanwhile, responding to the controversy, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said: "The EC is equipped to deal with any complaints made during elections."
Badal had, in a communication last week, appealed to the poll panel to ask its officials in the state "to act within the parameters of their constitutional brief." Reacting to this, Quraishi said he would write back to the chief minister giving his views on the issue.
In a strongly worded communication to the ECI last week, Badal said: "(The election officials in Punjab) should treat the observance of the model code of election conduct as their primary task. No should over-step their constitutional mandate."
"There is a difference between enforcing the model code of conduct for a free and fair poll on the one hand, and bringing the whole state to the brink of an administrative paralysis and developmental standstill, on the other. I have to appeal to the CEC to issue necessary directions to its officials to respect this crucial line," Badal said.
Badal's spokesman said in Chandigarh that the chief minister "politely reminding the Election Commission officials" wrote: "Even during the election code period, there is a democratically elected and constitutionally accountable government in the state, whose primary responsibility it is to maintain peace and law and order and to ensure smooth good governance for the benefit of the state and its people."
Badal said that unfortunately, "the manner in which the EC officials were taking their decisions is causing confusion about the lines of administrative control in the state and this can have negative impact on the morale and efficiency of the the law enforcing machinery. And that can be dangerous for peace and law and order."
"Mischievous and irresponsible elements can take advantage of the prevailing confusion to create conditions of violence in the state," he added.
In New Delhi, Quraishi said: "We will write to the chief minister and tell him what our views are. We are writing to them explaining what exactly is we should be doing and what they should be doing," he told a TV channel.