NEW DELHI: The Election Commission, while expressing its displeasure at the "unwarranted" request made by the Punjab
chief secretary for extension of time for the Sangrur parliamentary byelection ahead of the close of polling, has asked for a detailed explanation from him and the returning officer on the reasons and circumstances as well as new circumstances that may have arisen on Thursday afternoon, necessitating such a request.
Terming the request, first initiated at the level of the Sangrur returning officer, as an attempt at undue interference in the electoral process, the EC said a decision on initiating disciplinary action against the said officers would be taken after their explanation is received by 1 pm on Friday.
The unusual communication was sent by Punjab chief secretary to Nirvachan Sadan within minutes of Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann's Twitter appeal to the EC on similar lines, citing preoccupation of voters with the paddy season and pressing for exercise of voting rights "as per the Constitution drafted by Ambedkar".
The call for extending the polling time came as the voter turnout was alarmingly low, barely touching 37% as of 7 pm. In the 2019 Lok Sabha
elections, when Mann won the Sangrur seat for AAP, the constituency had recorded the third-highest turnout in Punjab at 72.4%.
The Sangrur byelection is the first electoral test after the AAP swept Punjab assembly elections a few months back.