CHANDIGARH: The local body elections to urban civic bodies in Punjab, scheduled to be held on February 14, have come under the shadow of ongoing farmers’ protest as a large number of candidates are fighting the polls as independents.
Sources said that most of the independent candidates owe allegiance to either SAD or the BJP.
Realizing that the public mood is against them, many candidates of these two parties are fighting the election as independents.
“The farmers’ anger is only towards the BJP but other political parties too are not taking any chances and are taking every step very cautiously,” said a political analyst.
As per the state election commission, a total of 9,222 candidates are in the fray for the municipal polls, among them 2,822 are independents.
They are followed by 2,037 of the ruling Congress; 1,569 of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD); 1,606 of AAP which is contesting these elections for the first time and 1,003 of the BJP which is for the first time contesting on its own without the support of SAD.
As many as 15,305 candidates had filed nomination papers but after scrutiny and withdrawal, only 9,222 are left.
Eight municipal corporations and 109 municipal councils will be going to polls next week. The counting of votes will take place on February 17.
Vinod Kumar Binta, president of BJP’s Bathnda district unit, is contesting as an independent from Bhucho Mandi Municipal Council.
“We want to avoid any confrontation with farmers, hence I am contesting as independent,” he said.
Also, the saffron party has not filed any candidate in Kartarpur municipal council and Lohian and Mehtapur nagar panchayats.
The elections are seen as a mini-referendum on the Centre’s farm laws. Other than BJP, all parties are trying to mobile the farmers’ anger to strengthen their vote base.
Sources in the Congress said though the party was fighting all seats, in some municipal councils and Nagar panchayats, candidates have filed papers as independents due to “political reasons”.