FIRST-TIME councillor Kusum Sadret, backed by the BJP, was Tuesday elected as the new mayor of Shimla — a Congress bastion for the past 31 years, prompting the BJP to go into celebration mode for gaining control over the town’s civic body ahead of the Assembly polls by the year-end.
In the mayoral election, the BJP candidate got 19 votes (two more than its own) while the Congress candidate Simi Nanda received only 13 (one Independent) votes and one vote was deemed invalid. The CPM’s lone councillor, Shelly Sharma, abstained from the election, which was held Tuesday after having been deferred on Monday for want of quorum.
Kusum Sadret is the third woman to be mayor of Shimla after Madhu Sood and Jenney Prem of the Congress. In fact, Sadret was elected from Annnadale ward by defeating Prem. She is the BJP’s first woman mayor and a Dalit. The Mayor’s post was reserved for a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste.
The Shimla Municipal Corporation has 34 wards of which BJP-backed candidates won 17 and Congress 12 seats. Of four Independents, two each now are backing the BJP and the Congress. The BJP was well ahead of the half-way mark, with 19 councilors on its side.
The ruling Congress has suffered a double blow to its post-poll plans to ‘poach’ BJP councillors. First, it lost the support of an Independent – Sanjay Parmar, a Congress rebel, who joined the BJP and on Tuesday, the CPM councillor gave the Congress, which had pinned hopes on her, the slip.
Rakesh Kumar, 51, who had won as an Independent but soon he returned to in the BJP, was elected the deputy Mayor after he got 20 votes. Anand Kaushal of the Congress got only 13 votes.
Fearing poaching by the ruling Congress, the BJP had taken its 19 councillors to an undisclosed location and kept a close watch on them till they were brought to the town on Monday for the oath-taking ceremony.