Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar on Tuesday said the party would approach the Election Commission (EC) over the Central government’s alleged ‘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, Jakhar said the Punjab Congress 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, Jakhar 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.