Punjab local body polls: Cong expects ‘reflection of good work’, Oppn seeks to turn tables

With a few hours to go for the Punjab civic body election results, all political parties are making claims of the victory even as they are keenly watching the outcome of the election held on Sunday. The Punjab State Election Commission (PSEC) will begin counting of votes Wednesday for 2,302 wards in 117 civic bodies, including eight municipal corporations and 109 municipal councils.

The outcome is expected to have a far reaching impact in the politics of the state. The civic body elections are politically important as they were held amid the ongoing farmers’ agitation and during the last year of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s government.

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While the ruling Congress is closely watching which way the urban voters will behave as lines have been drawn between the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters and those supporting the farm agitation. The Congress government in Punjab has supported the farmers’ agitation to the hilt. The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), meanwhile, contested the elections independently after two decades of alliance.

It is for the first time that the MC elections have been held in the state during the Assembly election year. The local body elections, originally scheduled for 2020, were postponed due to Covid pandemic. It is generally believed that most of the civic bodies go with the ruling party as people believe the government would pump in money if the local bodies are also ruled by them. But, considering that this is the last year of the government, the outcome could be anything.

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The Congress is confident of sweeping the polls with CM’s political secretary Capt Sandeep Singh Sandhu claiming they are not scared of any shifting of vote bank. “You will see…it will be a clean sweep. It will be a reflection on the works the Amarinder Singh led government has done in the last four years,” he said.

About the “excesses” by the government as alleged by the opposition parties, Capt Sandhu said, “The elections took place at 130 places. If violence took place at 10 odd places then it is not even six per cent. The elections were peaceful at 94 per cent places,” he said.

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He added that the BJP was in disarray and could not even campaign while the SAD and AAP could not even put up candidates. “All three parties together were not able to field as many candidates as Congress party. This is the reflection of what is coming,” he added.

The AAP, that has been trying to present itself as an alternative to the SAD-BJP and Congress regimes alternatively in the state, is also watching the outcome ion the election. “We have contested the municipal elections for the first time in the state. We are hopeful that the people will teach the ruling party, the SAD and BJP a lesson. Despite the excesses of the government, we will do well,” said Harpal Cheema, Leader of Opposition.

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He added, “Look at the violence in Bhikhiwind and Samana. They cancelled the papers of our candidates in Zira. Then there was firing in Dhuri and Patti. If the government was confident of victory why was there such incidents?”

The SAD that put all its efforts in fielding candidates with party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal campaigning vociferously, is hoping to turn the tables on the government. “We will win. Our vote share will be better than our previous performances in the civic body elections,” said party leader Daljeet Singh Cheema.

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He said people were upset with the government and there was disappointment and anger against the ruling disposition.

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