Congress sweeps Punjab civic polls
Congress sweeps Punjab civic polls
States

Congress sweeps Punjab civic polls

S. Sivadas

S. Sivadas

The ruling Congress on Sunday swept the three municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala while the opposition SAD-BJP alleged misuse of official machinery.

The Congress virtually swept the wards in the three important corporations as results were out by late evening, prompting celebrations in the ruling camp.

The results come as a boost for the Amarinder Singh-led government in the state. The opposition alliance, however, alleged gross poll code violations and demanded countermanding of the Patiala corporation elections.

Polling was also held in 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats today, amid tight security. Among the three corporations, Patiala registered the highest poll percentage of over 62.22 followed by Jalandhar at 57.2 and Amritsar at 51 per cent while the voting percentage in the municipal councils and nagar panchayats ranged between 60 and 86 per cent.

The Congress has convincingly won Jalandhar, Patiala and Amritsar Corporations and was ahead in most of the Nagar Panchayats and Municipal Councils. It bagged 66 out of 80 wards in Jalandhar and won 58 of the total 60 wards in Patiala. In Amritsar, the Congress clinched 69 out of 85 wards, BJP 6, SAD 6, Independent 4.

The SAD criticized the State Election Commission over allegedly favouring the ruling party. 'The commission behaved as if it was scared of the government,' Akali Dal and its alliance partner BJP alleged. The Patiala MP, Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, appealed to the Punjab Election Commission to cancel the Patiala MC polls and hold fresh elections under the supervision of some central agency.

In ward no. 42 of Patiala, voters complained that Congress workers allegedly skipped having their fingers inked. There were also complaints of Congress workers threatening voters in ward no. 25.

In Patiala’s ward no. 54, Akali leader Harbaksh Chahal accused administration of playing into hands of Congress. Chahal alleged his supporters were thrown out by police while those of Congress allowed inside the booth without voter cards.

While many voters reported to have voted multiple times, district electoral officer Kumar Amit, denied allegations, saying he had received no such complaints. Voters left the queue at polling station set up at Government College for Women over alleged harassment. There were allegations of Akali supporters being stopped at entry gate by police and Youth Congress leaders.

AAP polling agents were allegdly thrashed in ward no 49 of Patiala.

On SAD leaders’ allegations against the ruling party, Congress leader Preneet Kaur said these claims were unfounded. “SAD leaders should recall when in the 2012 MC polls they beat up our leaders and had forcibly pushed them out of their own wards by 11 am. SAD are poor losers,” she said.

Senior Akali leaders, including Prem Singh Chandumajra, Surjit Singh Rakhra and Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra gheraoed Moti Bagh palace, residence of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Patiala Mayor Amarinder Bajaj of Akali Dal was reportedly slapped inside polling booth.

In Ludhiana, hundreds of Akali workers led by former MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali staged a protest outside a polling station at Mullanpur Dakha claiming that Congress supporters had been allowed to go inside polling stations. Ayali also accused Congress leaders of booth capturing at Mullanpur. He claimed Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu and some the Congress workers illegally entered polling booths.

SAD leaders claimed Congress supporters were allowed to enter polling stations at Sahnewal as well. SAD MLA Sharanjit Singh Dhillon complained to senior officials that Congress supporters did not allow Akali supporters to cast their votes, and said the elections were “unfair”.

The Akali Dal also claimed that there was violence in Mullanpur Dakha, Ghanaur, Sahnewal and Raja Sansi.

In Ghagga, SAD leaders were reportedly slapped inside polling booths and asked to leave. The returning officer was reportedly missing from the scene. There were also unconfirmed reports of firing in Patiala. While police denied any such occurrence, witnesses claimed two Congress supporters fired at some people near PRTC workshop.

On the recommendation of an engineer, an EVM was replaced in Jalandhar’s ward no 33 due to some technical fault. Clear vindication of Congress policies: Capt Amarinder

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hailed the poll results as a "clear vindication of the Congress policies and a resounding defeat of the opposition's deceitful propaganda."

Former chief minister Parkash Badal described the entire process of civic poll as "utterly uncivilised" and a huge blow to democracy in Punjab. "This day will be remembered as a black Sunday for democracy in Punjab," Badal said in a statement here.

The AAP also alleged misuse of government machinery by the ruling Congress.

Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar thanked the people and party workers for ensuring smooth and impressive turnout in the polls, "despite the efforts by the Akalis to scuttle the poll process through threats, violence and rumour mongering in some areas." He said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had lost its ground completely in Punjab, as in the rest of the country.

RESULTS

Patiala Municipal Corporation (Total wards: 60; Results declared: 58)
Congress 58

Jalandhar Municipal Corporation (Total wards: 80)
Congress 66; SAD 4; BJP 8; Independent 2

Amritsar Municipal Corporation (Total wards: 85)
Congress 69; BJP 6; SAD 6; Independent 4

Ghanour Nagar Panchayat (Patiala) Total wards 11
Congress 10; BJP 1

Ghagga MC (Total wards: 13; Results declared: 12)
Congress 7; BJP 2; SAD 1; Independent 2

Dhilwan Nagar Panchayat (Kapurthala)
Congress 7; Independent 4

Goraya MC (Jalandhar district)
Congress 10; BJP 1; SAD 1; Independent 1

Bilga Nagar Panchayat
Congress 8; SAD 3; Independent 2

Shahkot Nagar Panchayat
Congress 12; Independent 1

Bhogpur (Adampur) Nagar Panchayat
Congress 8; SAD 5

Malaudh Nagar Panchayat (Ludhiana district)
Congress 8; SAD-BJP 2; Independent 1

Machiwara Nagar council (Ludhiana district)
Congress 12; SAD-BJP 2; Independent 1

Talwandi Sabo MC (Total wards:15)
Congress 13; SAD 1; Independent 1

Bariwala Nagar Panchayat (Total wards: 11)
Congress 9; SAD 1; Independent 1

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