An AAP candidate celebrates his victory in the Chandigarh civic polls
CHANDIGARH: Debutant AAP on Monday dealt a double whammy to the old guard in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections, relegating BJP to second place and pushing Congress to third in the seat stakes with a tally of 14 out of 35. The results prompted AAP national convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to call it “a sign of the change in Punjab”.
North India’s first electoral exercise since the BJP repealed the three farm laws that had triggered a yearlong agitation left the AAP just short of a simple majority and the saffron party with 12 seats, eight less than its 2016 civic election score of 20 out of 26. The AAP victory also felled sitting mayor Ravi Kant and two former mayors of BJP.
Congress, which had been looking to capitalise on the apparent anti-incumbency wave against BJP, doubled its 2016 tally to win eight seats and garnered the highest vote percentage of 29.8% overall.
BJP was second in this respect, too, with a vote share of 29.3%. AAP’s share of votes on debut stood at 27%. Shiromani Akali Dal won one seat. “People of Chandigarh today have chosen the honest politics of AAP, rejecting corrupt politics. Many congratulations to all the winning candidates and workers of AAP. This time Punjab is ready for change,” Kejriwal tweeted, alluding to assembly elections in Punjab early next year.
AAP functionary Raghav Chadha said, “Chandigarh is just a trailer, Punjab is the movie.”
The party received the biggest mandate in the villages and colonies, traditionally the vote banks of Congress. In many wards, BJP candidates slipped to the third position after Congress. All the AAP candidates were newcomers.
Besides failing to get its sitting mayor re-elected, BJP suffered a surprise defeat in ward number 25 that was previously held by its city unit president Arun Sood. He had backed Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha president Vijay Rana, who lost to AAP candidate Yogesh Dhingra. Chandigarh Congress president Subhash Chawla’s son Sumit was among the prominent losers, finishing third in ward 14.
Sources in AAP said the party now wanted to ensure BJP does not stand a chance of getting its nominee elected as the mayor. AAP has informally approached local Congress functionaries already for support in the mayoral race, they said. Source said AAP would be aiming to give impetus to its main poll plank in Punjab, “Ik mauka Kejriwal nu (one chance for Kejriwal)” after emerging as the single largest party in the Chandigarh municipal polls.
While it debuted in the Chandigarh civic battle, AAP has already contested three assembly elections in Punjab.