The BJP’s Kulbhushan Goyal defeated the Congress’s Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia by 2,057 votes in the Panchkula Municipal Corporation election results declared on Wednesday.
While Goyal polled 49,860 votes, Ahluwalia got 47,803 votes. Of the total 1.85 lakh registered voters, 1.04 lakh had exercised their franchise.
In the first round of counting, Ahluwalia and Goyal were locked in a tough fight, polling 1747 and 1703 votes respectively. However, Goyal took a lead of 700 votes by fifth round.
By 11th round, Goyal took a lead of almost 4000 votes as compared to Ahluwalia. By 18th round, the BJP took a lead of more than 5000 votes, mainly calculated from the urban areas of the city. Votes for Ahluwalia started increasing as rural vote counting began but by the final round — 32nd — the Congress lost by over 2000 votes. While the Congress expected the votes from rural areas to remain one-sided, the rural votes got divided between both the parties.
Four other candidates in the fray for mayoral post — AAP-supported Independent candidate Padam Garg, BSP’s Anil Pangotra, Independent Sudarshan Bansal and Independent Shyam Singh Negi — could not even poll 10 per cent of the votes and lost their election deposits.
The Congress also failed to achieve a majority among councillors with only six from the party being elected. While two posts were bagged by Independent candidates, a total of 12 posts were bagged by the BJP-JJP alliance. The JJP won two of the four seats given by the BJP.
A clean, beautiful, green and self-sufficient Panchkula was promised by Goyal after being declared the Mayor. “We will begin work for this within the first three months with the main objective of getting Panchkula declared as a smart city along with the construction of an iconic tower in Sector 5 as the identity of Panchkula. People have voted us to power. They have added a fourth wheel to development in the city. I will see to it that their demands and concerns are met,” he said as he walked out of the counting centre soon after his win.
Goyal said that his main agenda is to get Panchkula free from stray dogs and stray animals at the earliest, to complete the construction work of sanctioned solid waste management plant at Jhuriwala and to install sports equipment and gyms in the remaining parks of Panchkula.
He also promised the construction of multilevel parkings in each sector by fixing the location with the consent of the general public at the earliest.
The BJP’s Gian Chand Gupta, local MLA and Speaker of Haryana Assembly, said: “It is a victory of development. People have believed in us because of the development work worth thousands we have undertaken.”
Reacting to the election result, Congress candidate Ahluwalia said, “We are servants of the people. We accept their decision. The party will assess reasons for the loss, though the margin was very less. I am happy for all the Congress candidates who won today.”
Asked about her stronghold of villages slipping away, she said, “I have received plenty of votes from them but they were not enough. Anyhow I thank them for the support.”
Twelve councillors, including Ahluwalia, from the Congress had won in the 2013 MC elections. They had then unanimously voted for Ahluwalia to be the mayor. She remained the mayor of Panchkula from 2013-2018 after which the elections were put on hold due to the proposed bifurcation of the Panchkula MC from Kalka.
Among the prominent Congress men who lost were Naresh Rawal, brother of former city mayor Ravindra Rawal, former councillor Bhavna Gupta, Chandar Mohan’s close aid Om Shukla, former councillor Kuljeet Kaur Badach, supporters of Ahluwalia and former councillors Ravikant Swami and Yogindra Quatra.
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