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Congress sweeps Punjab municipal polls

Over 70% of voting was recorded in the Punjab civic body elections on February 14, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The ruling Congress swept the municipal polls in Punjab, winning seven out of eight municipal corporations, the results of which were declared on Wednesday.

Ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls, due in early 2022, the victory of the Congress, which forcefully supported the ongoing farmer’s movement against the controversial farm laws of the Central government, is being seen as a major boost for its electoral prospects. While the BJP’s former alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), emerged as the principal Opposition party in most municipal bodies, the BJP’s performance was dismal.

According to an official statement, the Indian National Congress won 271 wards of the total 351 of the seven municipal corporations- Abohar, Batala, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Moga and Bathinda and bye-election to one ward in Amritsar.

The SAD secured 33 wards, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) 9, the BJP 20 and Independents 18. The result of Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, the eighth municipal corporation, will be declared on February 18, as the State Election Commission had directed repolling in two wards.

The swing in favour of the Congress in comparison to the 2015 municipal elections in Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Moga and Pathankot districts is manifest in the fact that from 11 seats back then, the party’s tally has improved to a whopping 149 now.

The statement said that as per the results of 109 municipal councils and nagar panchayats, the Congress won 1,078 wards, while the SAD got 251 and the AAP 50. The BJP won 29 wards and Independents bagged 375 wards.

Amarinder’s assertion

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the Congress’s victory was not just a validation of his government’s development-oriented policies and programmes but also a total rejection of the anti-people actions of the major Opposition parties, namely the SAD, the AAP and the BJP.

“The first major polls to be held in Punjab since the enactment of the 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 the ruling AAP in Delhi,” said Capt. Amarinder, adding that the SAD’s and the AAP’s subsequent “theatrics” and “crocodile tears” for farmers had failed to befool the voters, who had seen through the political gimmickry of these parties.

“With the SAD, the AAP and the BJP not even a close second to the Congress and trailing to 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 their loathsome political ideologies,” he stated.

Polling in Punjab was held on February 14 for over 100 municipal bodies across the State, which saw 71.39% voter turnout.

The SAD alleged that the Congress had secured a win in the municipal elections by resorting to State- sponsored repression even as it lauded Akali workers for asserting themselves boldly and ensuring that the SAD emerged as the main Opposition.

Senior party leader Daljit Singh Cheema said the SAD had emerged as the principal Opposition party in the State post municipal elections despite going alone for the first time. “SAD candidates gave a tough fight to the Congress across the State with almost all seats witnessing a direct contest between the Congress and SAD,” he stated.

Senior AAP leader Harpal Singh Cheema said that the results were a good sign as the party’s base in urban areas had increased. “This is a good sign for the party that the Aam Aadmi Party will be even stronger in the urban areas by 2022.”

The party must have had some shortcomings in contesting the local body elections for the first time. “These shortcomings will be rectified after self-assessment. The work would be done to strengthen the party before the forthcoming Assembly elections,” he added.

Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma said in a statement that the election results reflected complete moral defeat of the Congress in the face of blatant misuse of official machinery.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 4:07:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-sweeps-punjab-municipal-polls/article33858221.ece

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