The Shiromani Akali Dal on Sunday accused the Punjab government of putting pressure on its workers to vote for the Congress candidate in the Shahkot Assembly bye-election later this month. The party urged the Election Commission to take note of the alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct by the Congress government, PTI reported.

The bye-election, scheduled on May 28, was necessitated after the death of Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in February.

“The Congress is openly misusing government machinery to put pressure on Akali Dal supporters,” party spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said. “Since the ruling party is hell-bent on rigging the election, an independent team may be appointed by the Election Commission from Delhi to stop it. Simple deployment of observers will not help.”

In a letter to the Election Commission, Cheema claimed that many sarpanches in Shahkot had told him that local officials had threatened them with strict action and false cases if they did not vote for the Congress candidate.

“Even today, a team of the electricity department raided the house of our sarpanch Sohan Singh of village Mulewal Khehra after he refused to join Congress party,” the letter read. “The raiding party disconnected the power supply of the house and took away the old meter without giving any reason while warning him of dire consequences if he failed to support the Congress candidate.”

Two AAP leaders join Akali Dal

Meanwhile, two Aam Aadmi Party leaders in Punjab joined the Shiromani Akali Dal on Sunday ahead of the bye-election in Shahkot.

CD Singh Kamboj said he was joining the Akali Dal as he wanted to defeat the Congress’ Hardev Singh Laadi in the bye-election as he had allegedly insulted the Kamboj community. “The community is very upset with him,” he said. “In fact, people with dubious reputation like Laadi are being rewarded with party tickets. This shows the moral bankruptcy of the Congress.”

Kamboj was earlier the state president of Bahujan Samaj Party, then moved to the Congress, and joined AAP in 2015.

The other leader, HS Walia, said he was joining the Akali Dal because of its pro-people policies as well as the party’s wish to take all sections of society with it.

“I earlier joined AAP because it professed idealism,” Walia said. “However I slowly realised that the party had become thoroughly corrupt and was not concerned about Punjabis and their problems.”