NEW DELHI: A day after the EC reduced the period for registration of new political parties, the AAP on Saturday said its claim stood vindicated and accused the poll panel of relaxing the norms in the middle of the elections to damage the poll prospects of the Arvind Kejriwal-led party in Punjab "under a conspiracy".
The AAP had on Thursday claimed that the Election Commission (EC) was going to register a new political party by bringing changes in its rules at the behest of the BJP in the middle of elections to stop the party from winning assembly polls in Punjab and forming its government in the state, an allegation the poll panel later dismissed, terming it "factually incorrect".
Addressing a press conference at the party's headquarters here on Saturday, AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha asked the EC and the BJP to disclose the name of the "political morcha" for which the rules were changed "overnight".
However, the AAP leader refused to name the political party in question, saying it will soon be known to everybody.
The EC on Friday announced the reduction of notice period for registration of new political parties in the five poll-going states from 30 days to 7 days, keeping in view difficulties caused by COVID-19-induced curbs.
"The Election Commission of India came with a circular on January 14 saying that it has reduced the 30-day notice period to 7 days in view of the political parties facing some difficulties in submitting their registration form and completing other formalities due to COVID-19 pandemic," Chadha told reporters on Saturday.
"With this, the AAP's prediction, apprehension, suspicion, information has turned into belief," the AAP leader said, terming the Commission's notification "documentary evidence" of the claims that AAP had made in this on Thursday.
Raising objections to the Election Commission's decision, Chadha, who is co-in charge of the AAP's political affairs in Punjab, alleged that the EC has brought in changes in its rules to register a new political party "under a conspiracy" to defeat "the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal's honest politics" in the assembly polls.
"Under a big conspiracy, a new political party is being registered, perhaps to cut the votes of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)...This is our apprehension. It is bothering us," he said. He asked both the poll panel and the BJP to disclose the name of the party for whose registration the rules were relaxed "overnight".
"Who are those political people, political forces who want to see AAP defeated at any cost? I want to ask both the Election Commission and the BJP...People have the right to know in democracy. The Election Commission going to register a new party overnight so that it cuts the AAP's votes," he said.
Replying to a question on whether the party now plans any legal course of action against the poll panel's decision, Chadha said that the AAP will take the issue to the people's court, instead of approaching the court of law.
The AAP leader claimed that the EC "never" registered a new political party by bringing changes in its rules "in the middle of elections and after the announcement of the dates of polls". However, the EC in its statement on Thursday had said that it relaxed the notice period in view of the pandemic during the assembly polls in Bihar, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
Noting that it had recently announced the schedule for assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur on January 8, the poll panel said, "It has been brought to the notice of the commission that in view of prevailing restrictions on account of COVID-19, there was dislocation and delay in moving applications for registration, which in turn led to delay in registration as a political party."
After considering all aspects, the commission has given a relaxation and has reduced the notice period from 30 days to seven days for the parties which have published their public notice on or before January 8.
"For all parties, including those parties which have already published the public notice in less than 7 days prior to January 8, objection, if any, can be submitted latest by 5:30 pm on January 21, or by the end of the originally provided 30 days period, whichever is earlier," the statement added.