Sandeep Dixit arrives late, Rajya Sabha MP from Okhla failes to turn up

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday won the South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s mayoral election by just one vote, a margin made possible by the absence of two Congress MPs and the fall in support for the saffron party.

Last year, BJP candidate Sarita Choudhary had won by 16 votes. This time, the BJP-led House elected Khushi Ram, who beat Congress nominee Dharamveer Singh by getting 52 votes out of the 104 polled. Mr. Singh won 51 votes and one vote was found invalid as it was cast in the ballot box meant for the Deputy Mayor poll.

Leader of the House Subhash Arya chalked up the narrow margin to the “shifting of the independent vote”. Opposition leader Farhad Suri, however, said many BJP councillors voted for the Congress as they were disillusioned with their party’s leadership.

The Congress had five MPs who were eligible to vote, of which Ajay Maken, Mahabal Mishra and Ramesh Kumar made it in time for voting. East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit arrived 10 minutes late. Though he was not allowed to vote for the mayoral post, he did vote for the Deputy Mayor. On the other hand, Rajya Sabha MP from Okhla Parvez Hashmi did not make it to the House at all.

Congress sources said it was a deliberate attempt by a group within the party to sabotage the chances of Mr. Singh, who is said to be close to Mr. Maken.

Sources added that senior party leaders are expected to take up the matter with the central leadership.

“It is unfortunate that the two MPs could not make it, because we would have won had they voted. I have asked State Congress president Arvinder Singh to take strict action against them,” said Mr. Suri.

The Congress, however, managed to win the post of Deputy Mayor in the BJP-led House. Congress candidate Praveen Rana got 59 of the 105 votes polled, while the candidate of BJP-ally Bahujan Samaj Party, Bir Singh, got 46.

Meanwhile, Mr. Suri, Kuldeep Solanki and Radhey Shyam Sharma were unanimously elected as members of the Standing Committee. BJP councillor Ashish Sood was also elected unopposed as a member of the Education Committee. Election day turned out to be bittersweet for both parties. A disappointed Mr. Suri summed it up thus: “Such things do happen in life”.

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