55% vote in Jalandhar; high drama over BJP’s ‘outsider’ catch, freebies : The Tribune India

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55% vote in Jalandhar; high drama over BJP’s ‘outsider’ catch, freebies

55% vote in Jalandhar; high drama over BJP’s ‘outsider’ catch, freebies

BJP candidate Sheetal Angural catches hold of an AAP volunteer from Bathinda at a polling booth in Jalandhar on Wednesday. Tribune Photo

Tribune News Service

Deepkamal Kaur

Jalandhar, July 10

Even as tempers flared in the run-up to the Jalandhar West byelection, the polling passed of peacefully today with a turnout of 55 per cent.

High drama was witnessed at the start of the day when BJP candidate Sheetal Angural allegedly caught an AAP volunteer from Bathinda working at a polling booth. Angural chased the volunteer for some distance before finally catching him in the washroom of a house. He then handed the volunteer over to the police for lodging a case. The BJP leader subsequently went live on Facebook to warn AAP against engaging “outsiders”.

Jalandhar MP and former Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi alleged that AAP workers had set up booths within 50 metres of polling stations, violating the Election Commission’s norm of 200 metres. Channi visited one such polling station in Basti Guzan and asked the police to relocate the AAP booth to the requisite distance.

Rivals accused AAP workers of violating the code by moving door to door in several localities, allegedly ferrying voters to polling stations for free in e-rickshaws.

Punjab Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring followed his pre-announced plan and sat through the day in the waiting lounge at the office of the Commissioner of Police, taking down complaints from party workers deployed at booths and directing them to the DC, Commissioner of Police and the Returning Officer for their intervention. Warring, however, accused the police of not acting on the complaints of alleged distribution of freebies.

Questioned about the “presence of outsiders”, AAP candidate Mohinder Bhagat claimed “people from Bathinda or elsewhere may have visited Jalandhar today to see their relatives”. “They were surely not working for us,” he maintained. On the deployment of e-rickshaws, Bhagat said it was a “good gesture to help voters amid the scorching heat”. When reminded it was a code violation, he retorted, “The (AAP) workers may have made arrangements on their own. No such facility was provided by AAP.”

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