ON TEST today is the loyalty of the BJP councillors. Despite having majority of councillors in the general house, the threat of cross-voting looms large for the BJP in the mayoral elections that will be held on Friday. The city will get its new mayor on Friday. This time the seat is reserved for a woman councillor.
The elections will be held at 11 am in the Assembly Hall in Chandigarh Municipal Corporation building. A mayor holds a one-year term in Chandigarh. A mayor is elected from among the elected representatives in the General House. To become a mayor, a candidate needs 14 votes out of 27. The nine nominated councillors do not have voting rights. One vote is that of MP Kirron Kher who is the ex-officio member of the House. Of the 26 elected councillors, the BJP has a majority in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation with 20 councillors. There are five Congress councillors while one is from SAD, which is in an alliance with the BJP.
As there was opposition within the BJP on announcing Raj Bala Malik’s name as the official candidate, sources said that a meeting of all the councillors was held and ‘clear directions were passed’ to ensure that there is unity among all. Malik is a turncoat who had come from Congress and joined BJP in 2014.
The BJP has chosen Malik over their old warhorse Heera Negi who has been a loyalist of the party for 30 years. After Malik’s name was announced, tempers ran high in Negi’s camp. At the same time as BJP councillor Chanderwati Shukla was also not fielded for any of the three posts of Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor or Deputy Mayor, she too has been vocal in opposition.
Since there are chances of cross-voting which has taken place in the past, sources said that the councillors were told that “BJP cannot afford to lose the election and ‘action would be taken against any of those who will cross vote”. A meeting was also held at the residence of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar where all the BJP councillors were called. Three of them — Chanderwati Shukla, Farmila and Hardeep Singh — from SAD did not attend the meeting.
Sources said that the meeting was to ensure that everyone is united and ‘differences are resolved’.
Congress has five councillors in the general house. They have fielded councillor Gurbax Rawat for the post of Mayor, Sheela Phool Singh for the post of Senior Deputy Mayor and Ravinder Gujral for the post of Deputy Mayor.
At the same time, Congress councillors are also trying hard to break the BJP councillors to ensure that votes are crossed in favour of their candidate.
If the BJP stays united, Malik is all set to become the mayor for the second time. She also threw a dinner party on Wednesday night to ensure that all the councillors remain united with her.
Malik has remained the mayor from Congress in 2012. For the post of Senior Deputy Mayor, BJP fielded Ravi Kant Sharma, from city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon’s camp while Jagtar Singh Jagga was fielded for the post of deputy Mayor.
‘Don’t allow the use of gadgets in polls’
USE of pen cameras and other gadgets in the mayor elections on Friday, Congress councillors have written to the UT Adviser requesting him to intervene.
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