CHANDIGARH: As expected, the ruling Congress has swept the civic polls in Punjab which were held in the backdrop of prolonged farmers’ protests being supported by the party. The Shiromani Akali Dal came a distant second and the BJP came last with the main opposition AAP faring well below its expectations. The civic polls were held barely a year ahead of the Assembly polls.
The Congress swept seven municipal corporations in the state as it bagged Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Abohar, Pathankot, Batala, Moga and Bathinda. It was after decades that the party won back the Bathinda civic body from the Akali Dal. The results of Mohali Municipal Corporation will be declared on Thursday.
The Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency is represented by former Union minister Harsimrat Badal of SAD, which broke off from the ruling BJP last year following differences over new farm laws.
In a major setback to the BJP, the Congress clinched the Pathankot Municipal Corporation by a big margin. Despite the BJP holding the mayor post in Pathankot, it could win only 11 seats in the corporation. The Congress won 37 out of the total 50 seats. The BJP also lost in neighbouring Saujanpur civic body, another stronghold of the party, where Congress won eight out of total 15 seats while the BJP won five.
Of the 109 municipal committees and councils in the state for which elections were held, the Congress has won 78, SAD 5, independents 14 and for 12 seats, there was no clear majority for any party. Meanwhile AAP and BJP could not win any of the seats.
In the final count of the state, the Congress won 1,199 of the 1,815 wards (municipal councils) and 281 of the 350 municipal corporation seats, with SAD trailing at 289 and 33, BJP at 38 and 20, and AAP at 57 and nine, while the remaining went largely to independents and BSP (K) and CPI winning in 13 and 12 wards respectively.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the party’s victory was due to its “progressive policies”. “These were the first polls to be held in Punjab since the enactment of the draconian farm laws which underscored the people’s anger with the BJP, which was responsible for these laws with the active support of its former ally, the SAD, and in collusion with the ruling AAP in Delhi”.
He said the “pro-governance and pro-progress” verdict of the urban voters endorsed their rejection of hateful political ideologies. SAD’s Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said the Congress had resorted to state-sponsored repression. “The SAD emerged as the principal opposition party despite going it alone. The AAP is completely routed. Our candidates gave a tough fight to the Congress with almost all seats witnessing a direct contest between the Congress and SAD.”