Following a tense atmosphere surrounding the Chandigarh Mayoral Elections, the BJP secured a win after ballots were cast and tabulated on January 30. The election date had been moved to January 30 due to the illness of the presiding officer on the initially scheduled date of January 8.
The fresh scheduling of the elections, which AAP MP Raghav Chadha described as the first direct electoral contest between the BJP and the Opposition–I.N.D.I Alliance–happened on the order of the Punjab-Haryana High Court.
As the votes were counted following the polling on January 30, the BJP’s mayoral candidate, Manoj Sonkar, bagged 16 votes while his rival, jointly supported by the AAP and the Congress, Kuldeep, got 12. Crucially, however, 8 votes were declared invalid. According to sources, as the BJP candidate was declared the winner, bedlam broke and members of the saffron party and the joint Opposition came to blows.
Earlier in the day, heavy security was deployed at the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh ahead of the mayoral polls. The Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 24, 2024, announced the decision to hold the Chandigarh Mayoral Elections on January 30 and also vested the responsibility for security in the Chandigarh Police.
Advocate General Punjab, Gurminder Singh, said earlier, “The Punjab Haryana High Court made its decision regarding the Chandigarh mayoral elections public. The court granted permission to hold the Chandigarh Mayoral polls on January 30 at 10.00 am. The Chandigarh Police has been entrusted with full responsibility for security.”
“The Court has also said that all the counselors coming in to vote will do so without their security escorts. If needed, they will be assisted and provided security by the Chandigarh Police,” the advocate added.
After the mayoral polls were rescheduled on account of the sickness of the presiding officer, Congress and AAP leaders alleged that the BJP deliberately delayed the polls as it sensed defeat.
In what is the first instance of the Congress and AAP coming together for an electoral contest since the formation of the Opposition bloc–I.N.D.I Alliance, the two parties threw their combined weight behind the joint Opposition candidate.
As part of the deal between the two parties, the AAP fielded a candidate for the mayoral post while the Congress put up nominees for the posts of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor. As the two parties clinched a deal on January 18 to contest the polls together, AAP MP Raghav Chadha said that elections will alter the course of politics in the country, adding, “This will be the first match of BJP vs the I.N.D.I Alliance.”
(with inputs from ANI)