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Heavy rush in court for ‘loyalty’ affidavits

Jorhat, Dec. 28: Lawyers and stamp vendors may be having a field day owing to the heavy rush of Congress ticket-seekers thronging the Jorhat court to sign affidavits pledging loyalty to the party but many of them do not seem to know what the whole thing is about.

Aparna Bora, a lawyer, said in the past two days the notary had signed more than 1,000 affidavits and even today there was a heavy rush.

“All the ticket-seekers for panchayat polls are from the Congress and they are making a huge crowd at the notary’s chamber. From some village panchayats in the district, 200 to 300 people had come to seek nominations for the panchayat polls,” she said.

Anumai Kolita of Garmur Doliagaon was sure of getting a ticket and so was Bokuli Boruah, 53, of Uttar Garmur panchayat (reserved for women). Both of them along with a number of other women had come to the court today to sign the affidavit.

However, a number of them told this correspondent did not know what they were signing. “My son and husband wrote this out and all I know is that I have to sign it in front of the magistrate,” a woman said.

“The affidavit has to be made out on a Rs 10 stamp paper and with the stamp papers running out fast, many are buying Rs 20 stamp papers as well. However, the Rs 10 stamp paper stock is being replenished from the treasury regularly,” Bora said.

Another lawyer said he had set aside all other court work to make out these affidavits. The lawyer only has to identify the candidate while the affidavit has to be signed by the notary or an executive magistrate.

In neighbouring Sivasagar district, a source alleged that the vendors were indulging in black-marketing of the stamp papers. For the first time, the Assam PCC has issued a guideline, which should be attached with the nomination papers to pre-empt defection of its cadres at the grassroots level during the panchayat elections, which will begin from January 30 and conducted in three phases.

Roughly translated from Assamese, the affidavit reads, “In the name of God, I promise to work for the Congress party throughout my life even if I am denied a party ticket for the panchayat elections and try to ensure a win for the candidate who gets the ticket. In the event I win, I will remain loyal to Congress for the five-year period.”

Hemanta Neog, chairman of the PCC relief and rehabilitation cell, said this was the first time that the party had issued the whip to quell dissent which sometimes arises at the panchayat level.

Another Congress member said the party would at least have something in hand to take action against those members who change their allegiances or indulge in anti-party activities.