Chandigarh, Jan 30: In a major setback to INDIA bloc's Congress-AAP alliance, the civic body ruling BJP on Tuesday retained the Chandigarh mayoral post for the ninth time in a row by winning the post with just four votes.
The AAP-Congress alliance lost the seat despite having maximum councillors.
Congress and AAP councillors accused the presiding officer of rigging and not following the due electoral process. The mayoral poll row has reached the high court again and the hearing is likely to take place on Wednesday.
Eight out of 36 votes were declared invalid by presiding authority Anil Masih, a nominated councilor, with no voting right. The BJP got 16 votes, while the AAP-Congress alliance had 12 votes despite they had 20 councillors.
BJP’s Manoj Sonkar defeated AAP’s Kuldeep Tita, the candidate of the AAP-Congress combine.
After the mayor’s election, both the Congress and AAP boycotted the elections of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayour. BJP’s Kuljeet Singh and Rajinder Sharma won the post of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor, respectively.
In a 35-member house of the Municipal Corporation, the BJP has 14 councillors, with another vote of member of Parliament and ex-officio member Kirron Kher. The AAP has 13 councillors, while the Congress holds seven. The Shiromani Akali Dal has one councillor in the House.
The ruckus erupted after the BJP mayor was elected.
All 36 votes were polled, comprising the vote of local MP Kirron Kher, who was the first to cast a vote.
Responding to the victory, BJP national President J.P. Nadda in a post on X said, “That the INDI Alliance fought their first electoral battle and still lost to BJP shows that neither their arithmetic is working nor their chemistry.”
AAP MP Raghav Chadha told the media here, “Whatever we saw during the Chandigarh mayor election is not only unconstitutional but also treason...The illegality that we saw in the Chandigarh mayor election can only be called treason.”
He demanded that the presiding authority should be booked for electoral fraud and demanded a High Court monitored reelection.
“This shows the BJP for a mayor election can use all illegal tactics which would they do during the Lok Sabha elections seeing their loss. Does the BJP want to make this country North Korea?” Chadha, who was accompanying senior Congress leader Pawan Bansal, told the media.
AAP national Convenor Arvind Kejriwal termed the results as dishonesty. “The manner in which dishonesty has been done in broad daylight in the Chandigarh mayor election is very worrying. If these people can stoop so low in a mayor election, then they can go to any extent in the elections of the country. This is very worrying,” he said in a post on X.
Congress' former MP and Union minister Bansal said for the first time in the Chandigarh mayor elections eight out of the 36 votes were declared invalid, which means 25 per cent votes were declared invalid.
“The Congress and AAP alliance had to get 20 votes. We got 12 votes and eight were declared invalid. Not a single vote of the BJP was declared invalid,” he questioned.
Bansal said Congress and AAP agents were not given access to the ballot paper. “The presiding officer, who I would say is a shallow person, had been given one clear instruction to declare the BJP candidate as the winner.”
The election, initially scheduled on January 18, was postponed to February 6 after the presiding officer fell ill. After Opposition councillors moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court over the postponement, the court directed that the polls be held on January 30.
In January 2023, 29 votes were polled in which Anup Gupta of the BJP won the mayor election defeating Aam Aadmi Party's Jasbir Singh Laddi by only one vote. Gupta got 15, while Singh secured 14. The Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal abstained from the voting.
In 2022 too, the BJP candidate had won from just one vote after a vote was declared invalid due to various reasons.