SAD demands Panchayat poll counting to be done at booth level only and not at block level

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Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today demanded that the practice of counting votes at the Booth level must be continued during the upcoming Panchayat polls in the state even as it asked the State Election Commission to call an all party meeting to reach a consensus if it wanted any changes in the current electoral process for the Panchayat elections.

In a letter written to State Election Commission, the SAD Vice President and spokesperson, Dr. Daljit Singh Cheema said the current government wanted to change the counting system to block level which would encourage malpractices.

He said under the current system immediately after end of the election process the votes were counted at the booth level. “This ensures transparency as the votes are counted fairly in the presence of contesting candidates and their supporters. These persons would now find it difficult to reach the block level to ensure the same level of participation in the election process”, Dr Cheema added.

Apprising the election commission about the large scale of intimidation, violence and rigging in elections to local bodies and panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections, the SAD leader revealed that even the rival candidates were not allowed to be present at the counting centers. “The ruling party candidates were forcefully declared winner by expelling the counting agents from the counting centers at various places. Candidates raising their voice against such  malpractices were removed from the counting centre with the help of police”.

Strongly opposing the idea of changing the booth level counting system, the SAD leader demanded that the election to the Gram Pachayats must be held as per old pattern in which the counting takes place at the booth level and the results are announced immediately. He added that if the state election commission wanted any changes in the current electoral process for the Panchayat elections, it should call an all party meeting to reach a consensus on the matter.