Accounts dept stuck, how to fight poll: Cong to CEC

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Tuesday asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) how it could fight elections in Haryana and Maharashtra with the party’s accounts frozen and under siege.

Accounts dept stuck, how to fight poll: Cong to CEC

A delegation of Congress leaders leaves after holding a meeting with the Election Commission of India in New Delhi on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

editorial@tribune.com

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 15

The Congress on Tuesday asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) how it could fight elections in Haryana and Maharashtra with the party’s accounts frozen and under siege.

A high-level Congress delegation led by Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel and featuring Kapil Sibal, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, Vivek Tankha and Pranab Jha met the Chief Election Commissioner.

They alleged that the tax department of the government was deliberately hounding Congress accounts officials to ensure the flow of money to party candidates in poll-bound states was interrupted.

“How can we fight elections when our entire accounts department is paralysed? CBDT officials have swooped on six accounts department people across the country, including in Kanpur and Delhi, and are preventing them from functioning,” Sibal said after meeting the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).

“We are required by election law to transfer poll funds to candidates by cheque. How do we do it when our accounts are paralysed? We have asked the EC to intervene on an urgent basis,” Sibal said. He said the government was abusing agencies to target political opponents and destroy level playing field.

In a separate memorandum to the CEC, the Congress alleged criminal intimidation of voters in Kaithal, where AICC media head Randeep Surjewala was the sitting MLA.

“Goons have been let loose in Kaithal and are intimidating SCs and STs,” said Sibal about Kaithal, where Surjewala was in the fray again.

The Congress accused the BJP government of unleashing CBDT officials on its accounts department workers to freeze funding. “Income tax officials entered and searched premises illegally and without discernible warrant and refused to show any identity proof or document,” the memorandum read.

“The officials refused to leave and vacate the premises, insisting that they would not depart until the resident arrived to be questioned. No paper or order of summons or warrant was shown or served,” read the Congress memorandum.

The Congress leaders expressed fear of booth capturing in Kaithal and said unscrupulous elements were subverting the democratic requirement of a free and fair election there.

“The ECI and Supreme Court have repeatedly stressed the need for a level playing field and elections free from interference by criminal elements. If the party in power is allowed to deploy criminals to subvert the outcome of an election, the ECI must order immediate investigation,” the memorandum added.

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