CHANDIGARH: After a gap of ten years, the ruling Congress has won The Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections in Punjab, bagging 331 Zila Parishad seats out of 353 zones, and 2,351 of the 2,899 zones of 150 Panchayat Samitis. The slide in the fortunes of the main Opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) continued, as it managed to win just a handful of Panchayat Samiti seats.
The polls were held on September 19.
The crisis in the AAP has only deepened, with a vertical split in its ranks after the rebellion by Sukhpal Khaira, who had opposed the move to contest these polls. The Congress won 123 of the 193 zones in the ten Panchayat Samitis in Sangrur, from where Bhagwant Mann of AAP is Member of Parliament. The AAP, which was a force to reckon with in the last Lok Sabha and Assembly election in the Malwa belt, failed to make a mark. In Bathinda, the party has three MLAs, but won only five block samiti seats, while independents won seven seats.
As per the results announced by the State Election Commission, out of the 353 zones of 22 Zila Parishads, Congress won 331 seats, Shiromani Akali Dal won 18, Bharatiya Janata Party won two and others won two seats.
Out of the 2,899 zones of 150 Panchayat Samitis, Congress won 2,351, AAP won 20, Shiromani Akali Dal won 353, BJP won 63, CPI won one, SAD (A) won two, CPI (M) won two, and other candidates won 107.
The Congress won in the Badals’ bastion Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar and other nearby districts, and retained Patiala, Sangrur and Fatehagrh Sahib.
Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh hailed the poll results as yet another endorsement of his government’s policies and programmes and a total rejection of the Opposition’s malicious campaign against the ruling dispensation.
Pointing out that this was the fourth consecutive humiliating defeat of the SAD-BJP combine, after victories for the Congress in the polls to the Assembly, urban local bodies, the Gurdaspur parliamentary seat and the Shahkot Assembly seat, he said it was a vindication of his party’s efforts to bring the state out of the quagmire of devastation into which it had been plunged by the previous SAD-BJP government.
Amarinder trashed the Akali allegations of booth capturing by the Congress, saying that it was the SAD, on the contrary, which had stooped to all kinds of hooliganism to try and derail the poll process, particularly in Muktsar Sahib. He cited the video of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal which had gone viral, and which showed him ordering his party men to intimidate voters.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal will hold a state-level Anti Repression (Jabar Virodhi Rally) at Patiala on October 7 to highlight and protest against the brutal murder of democracy by "the unholy coalition’’ between the Congress and the state machinery, which functioned like a group of gangsters during the just-concluded elections in the state. "The SPs, DC, SDMs, and tehsildars functioned as Congress election workers in this mockery of democracy," said a resolution at the SAD Core Committee meeting here today.