DW BUREAU / Chandigarh
Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar on Tuesday said the party would approach the Election Commission (EC) over the central government’s ‘cash for votes’ mega scam involving misuse of public money to influence the nearly 15 lakh people working at the 18000-odd petrol pumps around the country.
In a statement here, Jakhar said the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) will go to the people against the Narendra Modi government’s despicable bid to win the ensuing Lok Sabha elections by hook or by crook.
Reacting strongly to the central government’s move to collect data from petrol pump employees on the basis of their caste, religion and electoral constituencies, the Gurdaspur MP said the exercise was clearly aimed at influencing voters ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Data regarding poll constituency can have no other purpose than electoral mapping, with an eye on the parliamentary polls, he added.
Besides constituency, religion and caste details, the data being collected from the staff at the refilling stations includes Aadhar and bank information, as well as personal details.
The data mining, which comes close on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica controversy and amid reports of Russia trying to influence the Indian elections next year, had exposed the nefarious designs of the BJP-led government to divide the nation to win the polls.
Earlier, raising the issue during Zero Hour in Parliament House in New Delhi, Jakhar lashed out at the government for conducting the exercise under the guise of Hydro Carbon Skill Council. Jakhar said the employees targeted for data collection would be given Rs 500 cash, along with a Prior Learning Certificate, just before the elections to impact their voting preference. It was a clear case of bribing the voters, he added.
He pointed out that retail outlet owners who were resisting sharing the data were being punished by the government by stopping their oil supplies.
Describing the entire exercise as another attempt by the Modi government to encroach upon the privacy of the citizens, Jakhar said the entire nation was living under a blanket of fear with the ‘Big Brother’ central government keeping a watchful eye on every movement of its people.
The Congress will not let them get away with such attacks on the nation’s freedom and its democratic systems, he warned, asserting that the party will fight tooth and nail to protect the interests of the people.
Democracy had been smashed to the smithereens by the Modi government, which had stooped to abominable lows in its desperation to win the forthcoming LS elections, said the Punjab Congress supremo. Having failed on all the major fronts, and with no achievement to boast of, the Modi government was now resorting to petty and cheap politicks to illegally garner votes, he
The central government did not have a single notable work to show as its accomplishment of the last four years, said Jakhar, describing the information collation as another game-plan of the Modi-Shah duo to win the elections at all costs. But the people of India, supported by the Congress, would give a befitting reply to the BJP and its allies in 2019, he added.