Saturday, November 7, 2009

Shut down belt shops, Demands Lok Satta

The Lok Satta Party today represented to the State Election Commission to direct the State Government to shut down all unauthorized liquor outlets as well as unauthorized ‘sitting rooms’ immediately to ensure fair and free elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation

In a letter to Mr. AVS Reddy, State Election Commissioner, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan pointed out that the Election Commission of India had in April-May, 2009 enforced closure of all unauthorized liquor outlets as sought by the Lok Satta Party. The State Election Commission, like the Election Commission of India, could decisively act and prevent sale of liquor through unauthorized outlets

Dr. JP said: “As all of us are aware, the election process is vitiated by distribution of money and liquor to lure voters. We concede that catching people indulging in clandestine distribution of money and liquor is difficult and bringing them to book impossible because distributors and recipients are hand in glove.

“The State Government, finding itself in financial straits, has reportedly directed the Excise Department to maximize its revenue by boosting liquor sales. Employees who fail to achieve the targeted sales would be shunted to insignificant positions, say media reports.”

Dr. JP pointed out that during electioneering and on the eve of polls, contesting candidates buy vast quantities of liquor and distribute it freely to lure voters. “Clearly, free distribution of liquor to voters is a flagrant violation of the code of conduct during elections and constitutes a corrupt electoral practice.”

“Election authorities order closure of licensed liquor shops for a limited period. The order does not take cognizance of the unauthorized liquor outlets, which are at the ‘service’ of the public in every nook and corner and round the clock. As a result the closure order remains just a piece of paper.”

Dr. JP made it clear that “we are not urging the State Election Commission to do something out of the way and which is beyond its purview. All that we want is enforcement of law both in letter and spirit to prevent the corrupt electoral practice of liquor distribution to voters.”

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