civic polls

Congress sweeps Punjab civic body elections, CM says it is a vindication of government’s policies

The Akali Dal demanded a re-election in Patiala because of alleged rigging, booth capturing and voter intimidation by Congress workers.

The Congress on Sunday swept the civic body elections in Punjab as it won 31 of the 32 municipal bodies and nagar panchayats that went to polls, ANI reported. The party also emerged victorious in the municipal corporation elections in Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar.

The election for the municipal corporation of Ludhiana, the state’s largest city, was not held as the electoral rolls were not updated.

In the city of Patiala, where there were reports of violence in several wards during polling, the Congress won 58 out of the 60 wards. Results of two seats were not declared till the time this report was filed.

In Jalandhar, the party was victorious in 66 of the 80 wards. The Shiromani Akali Dal won four seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party bagged eight and independent candidates won two seats.

“In Amritsar, out of 85 [wards], 61 have been declared, 45 we have won,” Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said. “The sweeping victory for Congress is a clear vindication of our policies and a defeat of the Opposition’s false propaganda.”

“This is the first victory that Rahul Gandhi has tasted as Congress President, third victory in our Captain’s [Amarinder Singh] turban,” State Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, meanwhile, submitted a memorandum to State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu, urging it to cancel the election in Patiala. The party accused the Congress of rigging, booth capturing and voter intimidation, and demanded a high-level inquiry into these alleged incidents.

“This is not the way to hold elections in a democratic system,” the party MP Prem Chandumajra was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times earlier in the day.

He along with other party workers staged a dharna outside the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Akali Dal workers also reportedly fired in the air in Patiala and clashed with Congress workers on the Nabha-Patiala road.

In Ludhiana, Akali Dal workers led by former MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali protested outside a polling station at Mullanpur Dakha. Congress leaders, including Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu and Ludhiana West MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, were allowed to enter polling stations, Ayali alleged. MLA Sharanjit Singh Dhillon of the Akali Dal claimed that Congress supporters did not allow Akali supporters to cast their votes in the town of Sahnewal.

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The Aam Aadmi Party criticised both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party after the reports of violence, saying they behave in a similar manner when in power. “The Congress and the BJP are two sides of the same coin,” AAP leader and Dirba MLA Harpal Cheema said. “Both these parties have always misused constitutional offices.”

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