Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 10
The Dera Sacha Sauda’s congregation at Salabatpura in Bathinda district on Sunday, in which leaders from all prominent political parties of the state were present, did not have the official permission of the Election Commission.
Talking to The Tribune, District Election Officer-cum-DC Arvind Pal Singh Sandhu said: “The dera had applied for a permission with our office for the function, but no clearance was given. I have sought a report on the event and we will proceed against the organisers as per the official guidelines.”
A senior official of the Chief Electoral Office said: “The function was religious so it did not fall directly under our purview. Going by the fact that senior functionaries of different political parties were present at the gathering, it definitely raises a question mark on the nature of the gathering.”
Among those present at the congregation included senior BJP leaders Harjit Grewal and Surjit Jyani; and Congress’ Vijay Inder Singla, Harmandar Jassi, Mangat Rai Bansal and Sadhu Singh Dharmsot. SAD leader Gulzar Singh and and AAP’s Bathinda (Urban) candidate Jagroop Singh Gill were also in attendance.
While the leaders maintained their visit was not political, sources said they held closed-door talks with senior functionaries of the dera, which is believed to have influence over 40 constituencies in the state.
The functionary of the election office said “We are aware of the fact that political parties have been allowed online campaigning till January 15 and the date might be extended going by the rate of increase in number of Covid cases. Parties will be working out all possibilities to reach out to voters. We will keep a special watch on all functions”.
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