Punjab village ends up voting for wrong constituency

By Jaideep Sarin and Parminder Singh Bariana, IANS,

Hoshiarpur (Punjab) : Electors in a village in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district have ended up casting their votes for the wrong constituency and its candidates in the Jan 30 assembly polls.

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The revelation came in the enquiry made by the district administration here following directions from the poll panel which got a complaint about the mistake.

The village in question, Koundla, 20 km from Hoshiapur town, was “mistakenly” clubbed by district election officials with the adjoining village and polling station of Bassi Chaura, official sources here said.

After delimitation, Koundla fell in the area of the Hoshiarpur seat while Bassi Chaura came under the Chhabewal seat. Earlier, both villages had a common polling station in Bassi Chaura.

The result was that the 156 voters of Koundla village cast their votes for the Chhabewal assembly seat instead of the Hoshiarpur assembly seat to which they rightly belong. While Chhabewal is a reserved seat, Hoshiarpur seat falls in the general category.

The “mistake” came to light after Industry and Local Government Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from the Hoshiarpur assembly seat, Tikshan Sud, shot off a complaint to the EC.

He said that the voters of Koundla village were forced to vote for the Chhabewal seat instead of Hoshiarpur constituency, 140 km from Chandigarh.

“This is a very wrong thing that has happened. I have complained to the EC regarding this. Polling for this village should be held again,” Sud told IANS.

Hoshiarpur Deputy Commissioner Deepinder Singh admitted the mistake of the electoral staff in not separating the electoral rolls of Koundla village from that of Bassi Chaura.

“The EC had sought a report in this regard and we have found that the complaint is true. We have submitted a report on this to the EC and we are waiting for further directions,” Singh told IANS.

He added that the ‘mistake’ happened at the level of the electoral officer.

Koundla residents, who were aware of the ‘mistake’ are still wondering if they will have to vote again.

“We had pointed out this issue to the election officials but they did not take it seriously. The village voted for the wrong assembly seat in the process,” Koundla sarpanch (village headman) Santokh Singh said.

Local BJP leader Vijay Pathania too complained that election officials did not pay heed to earlier complaints that the electoral rolls of Koundla had to be separated from Bassi Chaura and that their polling station would change after delimitation.

“Koundla village wrongly voted in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections also. However, it was overlooked since the election was not for the assembly seat,” a local resident in Koundla said.

Punjab voters set a record in the Jan 30 polling with nearly 79 per cent of the over 1.76 crore voters casting their franchise Jan 30.

Counting of votes takes place March 6.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])