January 6, 2015 4:31:49 am
By: Vivek Gupta
For the first time since 2008, the Congress is fighting with its back to the wall in the mayoral elections, which are scheduled for Tuesday. Also, for the first time, the BJP looks upbeat.
Over the last seven years, the city mayor was always a Congress nominee. On Monday, party city president B B Bahl told Newsline, “The Congress party is strong as a rock. We will win all three seats with comfortable majority as we have enough numbers.’’
But the odds against the Congress are heavy. Depleted by defections in recent months, the party is left with only nine members in a general house of 35. In order to win, it needs to bag the votes of nine more councillors.
By contrast, the BJP looks better placed. Taking into account one Shiromani Akali Dal councillor and party MP Kirron Kher, who is an ex-officio member, the party has the support of 15. It needs only three more to win.
“We have the required numbers and we are moving forward in the right direction,” said city BJP president Sanjay Tandon after a meeting of the party’s core committee.
The elections are being held for the posts of mayor, senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor. The Congress has fielded Poonam Sharma for mayor, Satish Kumar Kainth for senior deputy mayor and Gurbax Rawat for deputy mayor. The BJP has fielded Heera Negi for mayor, Rajesh Gupta (Bittu) for senior deputy mayor and Devesh Moudgil for deputy mayor.
In all, there are 35 voters. Excluding the BJP, SAD, Congress, there are nine nominated members and two of the BSP.
Both the Congress and the BJP are trying their best to win over as many nominated councillors as possible. Senior BJP leader Harmohan Dhawan was reportedly in touch with the two BSP councillors. The Congress, on the other hand, was hoping for cross-voting from the BJP because of the internal dissension in the party.
In the past, most nominated councillors generally supported the Congress, which had nominated them after winning the general election in 2011, but that cannot be assumed now. Almost all of them have stated that they would not vote for any party, but for individual candidates.
Last year, outgoing mayor H C Kalyan, who belongs to the Congress, had won by a margin of seven votes. Although in the Opposition, the BJP had managed to win the seats of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor.
Both parties held meetings on Monday to give finishing touches to their plans. The Congress’s mayor candidate Poonam Sharma again visited all nominated councillors and sought their support. On behalf of the BJP, Kirron Kher called up nominated councillors.
NEW MAYOR BEFORE NOON
The election process will begin at 11 am in the office of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. Polling for the election of mayor will be held first and the result is expected before noon. The newly elected mayor will then hold elections of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor.
GONE ABROAD, ONE VOTE DOWN
Sat Paul Bansal, one of the nominated councillors, went abroad on Monday, reducing the total number of voters to 34. However, this does not make any difference to the number of votes required for victory, which remains 18.
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