The BJP’s official candidate Rajesh Kalia, 46, won the mayoral polls after defeating the party’s rebel nominee, Councillor Satish Kainth, by five votes. The BJP has expelled Kainth from the party.
After his victory, an emotional Kalia said it was a vindication of his stand that he had committed no crime. “In the last few days, I was being projected as a terrorist,” said Kalia, vowing to wash off his taint by working for further beautification of Chandigarh.
Kalia also refused to sit on the official chair of the mayor, saying that he was a servant of the people and not a “raja (king)”.
While Kalia secured 16 votes out of the total 27 polled, Kainth got 11.
City BJP chief Sanjay Tandon said the party will investigate the cross-voting. “A two-member committee has been formed to find out who cross-voted. The two members will be BJP leader Chandershekhar and Councillor Ravi Kant Sharma. Action will be taken accordingly,” he said.
One vote was of MP Kirron Kher, an ex officio member of the House, while remaining were of 26 elected councillors. Nominated councillors do not have voting rights. This year the seat was reserved for an SC candidate.
The post of Senior Deputy Mayor was won by SAD Councillor Hardeep Singh who defeated Congress candidate Gurbax Rawat. Singh secured 20 votes, while Rawat got seven. The Deputy Mayor’s post was clinched by BJP Councillor Kanwarjeet Rana who defeated Congress candidate Ravinder Kaur. Rana got 21 votes, while Kaur six.
At 28, Rana is the youngest Deputy Mayor of the city. The elections were held in the afternoon as he had to take his law exam earlier in the day.
Before the voting began, around 3.20 pm, Congress’s official nominee Sheela Devi announced her withdrawal.
Ajay Dutta, a nominated Councillor, was the Returning Officer, while the polls were held in the presence of Deputy Commissioner Mandip Singh Brar and Additional Commissioner Saurabh Mishra. Elections were held through a secret ballot.
An hour before the election, political leaders, including former councillors Subhash Chawla, Mukesh Bassi, Tandon, city Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra and the kin of the councillors, besides a few garbage collectors gathered at the visitors’ gallery.
Dismissing his expulsion as inconsequential, Kainth, on the other hand, thanked the Congress for its “complete support”. Four councillors of Congress and Independent Councillor Dalip Sharma had openly supported Kainth. “It’s fine if they have expelled me. I have to serve the people and I continue to remain a Councillor. I am thankful to the Congress.”
Asked whether he would join the Congress, Kainth said he is open to all. “If Congress gives me a good offer, I will definitely think about that.”