After Jind episode, Khattar asks CEC if he can stay in poll-bound Chandigarh after campaign ends

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who had to move the high court after election officials refused to grant him permission for overnight halt in Jind on Friday citing the model code of conduct, has now written to the Election Commission asking if he can stay in state capital Chandigarh when it goes to polls on May 19.

Stranded due to bad weather, Khattar was allowed to stay at a guest house in Jind only after the Punjab and Haryana High Court conducted a late night hearing on a plea by his aide.

Haryana's Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan had said earlier that the Jind deputy commissioner, who is also the Returning Officer, had cited the model code of conduct while refusing permission to Khattar and reasoned that after the campaigning is over, ministers and MLAs cannot stay overnight in constituencies except where they are registered voters.

Khattar is a registered voter in Karnal, from where he is an MLA.

After the peculiar situation on Khattar's stay on Friday, his additional principal secretary has now written to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora seeking clarification on whether he can stay in Chandigarh after the campaigning ends there on Friday.

The letter written on behalf of the chief minister mentioned the circumstances under which Khattar's aide had to move the high court earlier on his behalf.

. The letter of the law, if taken to its extreme, would mean that the chief executive of the state cannot stay anywhere in the state for any purpose during this period (when campaign ends till polls are held) except where he is a registered voter.

This becomes even more piquant in the case of Haryana where the state capital does not fall within the limits of the state jurisdiction.

"Thereby, the chief minister would also have to leave his official residence in the state capital in Chandigarh on May 17 evening as elections in UT Chandigarh is due on May 19 and the chief minister is not a registered voter in Union Territory, Khattar's additional principal secretary wrote to the CEC.

The chief minister would like to be advised by the Election Commission of India on the course of action that has to be followed given the circumstances as mentioned, he wrote seeking to know if Khattar can stay in Chandigarh when poll campaigning comes to a close in the UT on Friday.

Chandigarh, which is the common capital of both Haryana and Punjab, goes to polls in the seventh and final phase on May 19.

The chief minister, whose chopper could not take off for Chandigarh from Sirsa due to inclement weather on Friday evening, had decided to head to the state capital by road, but was stuck due to a dust storm.

He then decided to make a night halt at a government guest house at Narwana in Jind, which lies in Sonepat constituency, but the Returning Officer orally informed an aide of the CM that he could not stay overnight there due to the poll code after which the court was approached.