Congress MLAs decide to quit Punjab assembly over poll issue

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Amritsar, May 17 (UNI) In a major political development today, 43 Congress MLAs, including opposition leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal decided to resign from Punjab Assembly in protest against ''murder of democracy'' in the just concluded Zila and Block committee polls swept by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal amid instances of violence.

At least 43 MLAs submitted their resignations to Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Ms Bhattal, except former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who could not be contacted, party sources said.

While 41 legislators submitted their resignation to Ms Bhattal, two MLAs Sher Singh and Juginderpal Jain have faxed their resignation to the PPCC chief.

The MLAS have cited, among others, the continued election code violations by SAD in Amritsar (South) assembly bypolls due on May 22 and expressed apprehension of violence and rigging in the Panchayat polls to be held on May 26.

Ms Bhattal had recently threatened that the Congress would quit the Assemblty in protest against the highhandedness of the ruling Akali Dal during the multi-phase polls to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

Congress sources said that it was now upto Ms Bhattal to forward the resignation letters to the Assembly Speaker after holding consultations with the party high command.

The MLAs today refered to the large scale violence in the just concluded polls to the Zila Parishads and the Panchayat Samitis alleging not only Congress leaders and workers but even SAD alliance partner BJP were not spared as the government unleashed a reign of terror across the state, with the help of Punjab Police personnel deployed for poll duties.

Yesterday, the PPCC had demanded imposition of President's Rule in the border state claiming complete break down of law and order and constitutional scheme of governance in Punjab.

''The situation is such that democracy is in peril and except for pre-emptive imposition of President's rule there is no other way of returning the situation'' a memorandum submitted to President Pratiba Patil by PPCC delegation at Delhi had stated.

UNI JN SP HS1813

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