Chandigarh Mayoral polls | BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar wins post of Mayor; defeats AAP's Kuldeep Kumar

AAP accuses BJP of ‘hooliganism’, Congress terms it ‘shameless capture of democracy’; they move High Court challenging the results; neither arithmetic nor chemistry of bloc working, says BJP

Updated - January 31, 2024 06:36 am IST

Published - January 30, 2024 01:51 pm IST - Chandigarh

BJP’s Manoj Sonkar being greeted by party councillors after he won the post of Mayor in the Chandigarh municipal corporation polls, in Chandigarh, on Jan. 30, 2024.

BJP’s Manoj Sonkar being greeted by party councillors after he won the post of Mayor in the Chandigarh municipal corporation polls, in Chandigarh, on Jan. 30, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Indian National Democratic, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) on Tuesday suffered a setback as it lost the Chandigarh mayoral election to the BJP.

BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar won the post of Mayor by securing 16 votes, including the vote of Chandigarh Lok Sabha MP. Kuldeep Tita of the Aam Admi Party (AAP), who was backed by the Congress councillors, managed only 12 votes as the presiding officer declared eight votes “invalid”.

Also Read | Chandigarh mayoral polls: It is BJP vs Congress-AAP

The BJP has 14 councillors in the 35-member Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. The AAP has 13 councillors and the Congress seven. The Shiromani Akali Dal has one councillor.

Creating a ruckus after the Mayor election, the Congress and the AAP boycotted the election to the posts of Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor, allowing the BJP candidates to win without a contest. 

The election was seen as the first test of the INDIA bloc’s effectiveness in taking on the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and came barely two days after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar left the Opposition alliance and joined the NDA.

AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the BJP of “hooliganism” and called it a “black day for democracy”.

“Everyone saw how they stole votes and forcibly made their candidate win. The issue is not who becomes Mayor but the country should not lose and the democracy should not lose,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

“On 30th January, 76 years ago the ambassador of peace and non-violence, Gandhiji was murdered. And today they have murdered democracy in the country, it’s a ‘black day, for democracy. Fortunately, their acts of hooliganism and dishonesty have been captured on the cameras. Now, the entire country is witnessing openly how forcibly they committed robbery of votes to elect their Mayor in Chandigarh,” Mr. Kejriwal said while addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Delhi. 

Also Read | INDIA bloc chinks: In Chandigarh, AAP-Congress join hands; in Punjab, Congress bashes AAP

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge accused the “Nathuram Godse worshippers, BJP, of murdering democracy on the day Mahatma Gandhi was killed”.

“As I said yesterday, 2024 is the last chance for us to save Democracy. If we do not come together, to save it from BJP, our future generations shall repent,” Mr. Kharge said.

“Brazen, shameless capture of the democratic system,” Congress general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said.

Congratulating the winners of the mayoral polls in a post on X, BJP president J P Nadda took a dig at the AAP-Congress alliance in the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

“That the INDI Alliance fought their first electoral battle and still lost to BJP shows that neither their arithmetic is working nor their chemistry,” Mr. Nadda said.

Alleging “manipulation and rigging” in the mayoral election, the AAP-Congress alliance has challenged the results in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

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