Updated: February 6, 2021 8:57:28 am
In the throes of a raging farmer protest and facing its first election in the state after breaking its alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP has fielded candidates on party symbol in 1,154 wards out of total 2,215 wards in the polls for 117 urban local bodies in Punjab.
For BJP, that comes to candidates filing papers to fight on party symbols on just 52 per cent of the total wards where voting will be held. Apart from 1,154 candidates fighting on party symbol, BJP also has 189 party-backed Independents who have filed their papers.
Congress, meanwhile, is fighting on 2,128 wards on party symbol. For SAD, over 2,000 candidates have been fielded to fight on party symbol, spokesperson Daljeet Cheema revealed. The figure for AAP candidates fielded on party symbol is 1,697.
The final number of candidates that will be left in fray from BJP fields candidates in just over half the local body seats all parties to fight on party symbol will be revealed on Saturday after numbers for rejections and withdrawals are collated, the State Election Commission told The Indian Express.
The BJP claims that it either failed to get candidates for rest of the wards or its candidates were allegedly threatened by SAD and Congress due to which they could not file their nominations.
Punjab BJP organisational secretary Dinesh Kumar said: “Our candidates were threatened, Congress and SAD candidates had even torn papers of many of our candidates, hence they were not even allowed to contest polls.”
Jeewan Gupta, general secretary of state BJP, said, “Nomination papers of 10 of our candidates got rejected in Batala Municipal Corporation while 5 in Gurdaspur Municipal Council and 2 each in Nabha and Dinagagar where Municipal council polls are going to happen. In Zira Municipal Council in Ferozepur district, no party candidates except for Congress were allowed to file papers on symbols. Now, our 1,154 candidates will be contesting polls on party symbols.”
On Thursday, farmer unions had protested in ward number 14 and 15 in Kotkapura constituency of Faridkot district outside the houses of BJP candidates who had filed papers for the upcoming elections. Kotkapura Nagar Council has 29 wards. Jatinder Kumar Azad is the BJP candidate from ward number 14, while Sunita Rani is the candidate from ward number 15.
In Bathinda Municipal Corporation elections, BJP candidates have filed papers to contest on 43 out of 50 wards. However, the Bathinda BJP urban district president Vinod Kumar Binta himself is contesting as an Independent candidate from ward number 2 of Bhucho Nagar Council of Bathinda instead of contesting from Municipal Corporation in Bathinda urban constituency.
Binta hails from Bhucho’s ward number 9 and he had contested election from ward number 9 in 2008 and 2015 on party symbol. He had won in 2008. However, this time he has changed his ward and has decided to contest as an Independent.
Explaining his decision, Binta said: “In ward number 2, everyone is contesting as an Independent candidate and hence, I also decided to do the same.”
His covering candidate is his son, Akash Bansal. Binta said: “I am getting a huge response in my ward and I will win for sure.”
In Ludhiana district, elections are happening in Municipal Councils of Khanna, Jagraon, Samrala, Raikot, Doraha, Payal, Mullanpur and Sahnewal. Here only ten BJP candidates have filed papers from Jagraon and one from Sahnewal.
In the rest of the councils, their candidates have not filed papers on party symbols. Congress and AAP’s 86 each candidates have filed papers from all the councils of Ludhiana compared to 85 of SAD, while 97 Independent candidates are also in fray in all these councils from different wards.
In Muktsar, BJP district president Rajesh Gora Paletha said, ‘’In Muktsar district, elections are happening the Nagar Councils of Muktsar, Malaut and Gidderbaha and BJP is contesting 22 wards out of 31 in Muktsar, on 21 wards out of 27 in Malaut and on 9 wards out of 19 wards in Gidderbaha Municipal Council. We are contesting independently for the first time as earlier used to contest in alliance and hence, this time could not field candidates from all wards.”
Meanwhile, from ward number 22 of Malaut, Suresh Sharma, a former state general secretary of BJP Yuva Morcha is contesting as an Independent candidate and interestingly, SAD has also not fielded any candidate in this ward.
In Jalalabad as well, out of 17 wards, BJP has fielded candidates from 15 wards. Sources revealed that from one ward, BJP did not field a candidate against former Nagar Council president Mamta Valecha, who is contesting on SAD ticket. Her husband, Prem Valecha, remained council president from 1997-2002 on a BJP ticket and in 2010, he had joined SAD.
In Fazilka, BJP is contesting from 22 seats against 25 seats and candidates on 6-7 seats had to be changed at the last minute as earlier candidates refused to contest, sources revealed. However from Abohar Municipal Corporation, all the 50 candidates are contesting elections from 50 wards.
“Our figure will be updated after Friday when withdrawal happens as you never know how many people withdraw papers. Things are not the same, but still BJP is contesting on a large number of seats on its first attempt after separating from SAD,” said a BJP leader of Malwa Punjab while talking with The Indian Express.
Harpal Singh Cheema, Leader of Opposition from AAP, said, ‘’AAP is contesting on symbols on 1,697 seats. In many areas we are in alliance with few candidates or are contesting independently in many Nagar Panchayats. In Nagar Council elections, people at times contest on based on their personal connect with people rather than on a party symbol. However, the ruling party is hell bent on unfair means. They have threatened many of our candidates to withdraw papers.”
Out of the 117 ULBs going to polls, 8 are Municipal Corporations, 20 Municipal Councils in Category A, while number of Municipal Councils which are undergoing elections in Category B and C are 39 and 23, respectively. A total of 27 Nagar Panchayats are undergoing elections. Polls will happen on February 14.
Allegations have also been made by SAD that nomination papers of two of their candidates were rejected wrongly in Gidderbaha. Meanwhile in Muktsar’s ward number 8, Congress candidate Tajinder Singh Jimmy Brar was declared winner after papers of all candidates were rejected.
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