SAD refutes charges of poll code violation during Hola-Mohalla

Chandigarh, Mar 21: Refuting Congress' charges of poll code violation during 'Hola-Mohalla' festival at Anandpur Sahib, Shiromani Akali Dal on Friday said it was a religious gathering and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and party president Sukhbir Singh Badal attended it as devotees.

"The participation of SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal and party president Sukhbir Singh Badal in the gathering on May 16 as devotees must not be viewed as violation of the poll code," party General Secretary Harcharan Bains said.

Bains, head of Campaign Operation, termed as "frivolous and baseless" the allegations of code violation levelled by Congress spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khera.

He said the party has apprised the Election Commission of its response to the query in this regard. A formal reply to the EC has been sent by the party secretary Daljit Singh Cheema through the Chief Electoral officer, Punjab and Electoral Officer, Rupnagar, requesting the EC to reject the complaint, he said.

The SAD has also conveyed to the CEC that "no conference even remotely referable as political" in nature was held on the day. In its reply to the EC, the party said that Badal and Sukhbir participated in the gathering "only as devotees."

"Therefore, there was no question of any political speech having been made or any election related issues being discussed," the SAD General Secretary said.

Referring to certain remarks made by Badal at the event, the party said that "narrating of some historical facts by Badal as devotee, cannot be assumed, termed or interpreted as something, even close to a political activity in nature."

"Badal had specifically said in his address to the gathering that in due compliance of the Election Commission order, no political issue could be or would be touched upon as he fully respected the order and had full respect for the Model Code of Conduct," Bains said.

The EC had banned political rally on the premises of Sikh shrine at Anandpur Sahib on the occasion of "Holla Mohalla' on March 16.


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