The Congress swept six municipal corporations in Punjab in the local body elections, for which results were declared on Wednesday, reported NDTV. The party bagged Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Abohar, Pathankot, Batala and Bathinda municipal corporations. In the Moga civic body, the Congress emerged as the single largest party, with no clear majority.
The election panel has ordered re-polling in booth numbers 32 and 33 of the Mohali municipal corporation, the eighth civic body, between 8 am and 4 pm on Wednesday. Counting of votes for these corporations will be held on Thursday.
The results came as a setback to the Bharatiya Janata Party amid the farmers’ protest against the three agricultural laws.
In Bathinda, the Congress bagged the municipal corporation after 53 years. The party leader and the state’s Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal tweeted saying that “history” had been made in the city. The party won in 14 wards, while the Shiromani Akali Dal won in seven, Hindustan Times reported.
In Pathankot, a BJP stronghold, the Congress won 23 out of 50 wards, Hindustan Times reported. Congress also won by a huge margin in Faridkot, where it secured 16 out of 25 wards.
The Congress won in 31 out of 50 wards in Hoshiarpur. The BJP won in four and the Aam Aadmi Pary won two. The Shiromani Akali Dal and Bahujan Samaj Party did not register any wins.
In Moga municipal corporation, the Congress won 20 of the 50 seats, reported The Indian Express. The Shiromani Akali Dal secured 15 seats, Independents got 10, the Aam Aadmi Pary won four and the BJP got one seat.
The Congress also secured 45 of the 50 seats in the Kapurthala municipal corporation, reported The Tribune. Three seats went to the Shiromani Akali Dal, while Independents won 2. In Abohar, the Congress bagged 49 of the 50 seats and one went to the Shiromani Akali Dal.
The Shiromani Akali Dal won 10 of the 13 seats in the Majithia municipal council, in a setback to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had an alliance with the former until the farmers’ protests against the agricultural laws changed the dynamics over the past few months.
Polling for 117 urban local bodies, including eight municipal corporations in Punjab, took place on February 14, and saw a voter turnout of 71.39%. A total of 9,222 candidates are in the fray for elections to 2,302 wards of the eight municipal corporations of Abohar, Bathinda Batala, Kapurthala, Mohali, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot and Moga and 109 municipal councils and nagar panchayats in the state.
BJP, SAD, AAP shamelessly trampled on farmers’ rights: CM
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hailed the victory as spectacular. “The first major polls to be held in Punjab since the enactment of the draconian farm laws had also underscored people’s angst with the BJP, which was responsible for the anti-farmer legislation with the active support of its former ally, the SAD, and the collusion of ruling AAP in Delhi,” he said, according to The Times of India. “All these parties had shamelessly trampled on the rights of the farmers, with the clear aim of destroying Punjab.”
The chief minister said that the SAD, AAP, and BJP’s numbers were not even close to the Congress’ that showed the party’s impact. “With the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Aam Aadmi Party, and the Bharatiya Janata Party not even coming a close second to the Congress and trailing even independent candidates in some wards, the pro-governance and pro-progress verdict of the urban voters of Punjab was a clear endorsement of their negation of loathsome political ideologies,” the chief minister said, reported PTI.
He added that this was a clear message to the parties to stay out of the state that “is not ready to either forgive or forget the deceit and the treachery to which the people of the state were subjected by them”.
The Punjab unit of the Congress took a dig at the other contesting parties over the results. “This is a tight slap on the face of BJP, SAD and AAP by people of Punjab for playing with the feelings of our annadaatas [farmers],” it tweeted, referring to the farm law protests.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Sunil Jakhar said the voters had supported his party’s development agenda and rejected the Bharatiya Janata Party’s negative politics, PTI reported. “People who have seen Punjab’s dark days of terrorism saw through their [BJP’s] agenda and rejected it,” he said.
The Punjab Congress chief added: “I want to thank urban voters for showing solidarity and rejecting the BJP’s agenda. It was to create a divide on rural and urban lines.”
Jakhar said that the BJP had tried to discredit the protesting farmers. “But people of Punjab know how to claim their right through democratic means and they have given their message,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Jakhar called for another term for Amarinder Singh. “I would like to launch a campaign Captain for 2022,” he said. “Only he [Singh] can steer the ship of the state through these turbulent times when Punjab is being discriminated against by the BJP-led Centre.”
The polls hold greater significance amid the farmers’ agitation against the new agriculture laws, as majority of the protestors belong to Punjab. Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months for withdrawal of the legislations, which they say will benefit corporate sector at their expense.
Special security cover was provided to Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and candidates in some sensitive areas on a temporary basis on Sunday, as a precaution to them facing public anger due to the crisis.