Limit number of leaders campaigning to five from each party: Khaira

Apprehending distribution of drugs, cash and other allurements to voters in the Moga bypoll, former Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, requested Punjab Chief Electoral officer Kusumjit on Monday to issue directions to all contesting parties to send a panel of five leaders or star campaigners to the Election Commission (EC), who would campaign during the elections.

Addressing mediapersons, Khaira said leaders and workers of all four parties in the fray — Congress, SAD-BJP, PPP and SAD (Amritsar) — have started pouring in at Moga. "Going by a conservative estimate, each party will try to ensure the presence of at least 25 people in each of the 188 polling stations. As a result, there is every likelihood that approximately 20,000 workers and leaders would stay put and try to influence voters. These outsiders will serve as conduits to distribute illegitimate drugs, cash and other allurements to the voters," he said.

Khaira added that though, as per the model code of conduct, ministers, MLAs and those holding government positions cannot use their official vehicles or red beacons, but the mere presence of these persons and their security paraphernalia has a direct influence on the voters.

Asked if he had taken consent of his own party before making the representation to Sidhu, Khaira said: "Other than the ruling party, no other party will have problem if such a directive is issued. If the EC issues orders, the Congress too will depute five leaders for the bypoll. For the party, it is a ideological fight in Moga. The ruling party has set a wrong precedent by encouraging politics of turncoats."

"The sale and purchase of votes started as early as 1960s in Lambi and Gidderbaha, the home constituency of the chief minister. His son and deputy, Sukhbir Singh Badal, did the same in pan-Punjab during the 2012 Assembly polls. He is a manipulator and not a poll manager," he added.

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