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Friday, July 20, 2018

Pardeep Chhabra after Chandigarh Municipal election results”: ‘Shocking verdict, EVMs may have been tampered with’

Pardeep Chhabra, who has put in his papers as Chandigarh Congress president tells Khushboo Sandhu in an interview that the verdict of municipal elections is a ‘murder of democracy.’

Written by Khushboo Sandhu | Chandigarh | Published: December 21, 2016 11:03:24 am
Chandigarh MC polls, Chandigarh MC polls result, Pardeep Chhabra, Congress president Pardeep Chhabra, Congress defeat, Congress defeat MC elections, BJP victory, BJP victory MC elections, Chandigarh, regional news, Indian Express Pardeep Chhabra. (Source: File)

The Congress has won just four seats in the election. What is your reaction to the verdict?

It is a shocking result for us. I believe that there has been tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). There is something fishy with the results. administration was completely with them. Their leaders like Amit Shah were directly or indirectly involved with this. The city residents were with us. BJP has misused official machinery. This is murder of democracy. The Election Commission should order a repoll and voting should be done using ballot papers. I challenge that if this is done, the truth will come out.

What makes you say that the elections were rigged?

The biggest example is that of H C Kalyan who was contesting from Maloya. He was among the strong candidates of the party. Against 685 registered votes, 703 was polled. The election commission ordered a repoll after he complained. In Jatinder Bhatia’s ward, the votes were polled without checking any identity cards. Voters were brought from outside. When he complained some of them ran away. The BJP used every possible tactic. We have lost in colonies as well as sectors.

What was the impact of demonetisation on the elections?

The issue of demonetisation is prominent even now. People were saying that they were
not in favour of BJP and they would teach the party a lesson. People felt that this was their chance to tell the BJP that they were against the decision. This is another reason to be surprised at the result. Along with demonetisation, local issues were also dominant in the elections. BJP stopped distribution of ration through Public Distribution System. Around 50,000 families were affected and were unhappy. If we look at the issue of development, in my area there was development in every sphere. When my wife was campaigning, people said that behind the development they could see Pardeep Chhabra and there was no need even to seek votes as they will definitely vote for us. My wife and daughter said they were proud of the work that I did as due to this they were being welcomed warmly everywhere during the campaign. The results however show that even in the area that I reside in we lost. Two booths where the BJP knew I would get most votes, we lost. The machines were tampered with.

This was your first election as the party president. Was the preparation lacking?

For the past two years, we have regularly been going among the people against the anti-people policies of the BJP government at the Centre. I organised protests, was lathi-charged and courted arrest. People were unhappy under the BJP rule. One of the prominent issues was price hike, second was the constant increase in petrol and diesel prices and the third the stopping of distribution of ration under PDS. Another issue was that the distribution of kerosene was stopped. Demonetisation and the harassment of employees were the other issues. Employees neither got the benefit of pay commission nor any incentive in housing. Instead inter-cadre transfers were started. Businessmen were upset as business went down by 25 percent after demonetisation. Labourers are not getting employment. We had taken up each of these issues aggressively. People’s feedback was that you should win all seats. I was expecting that we will get anything between 15 and 20 seats.

Do you think the ticket distribution should have been different?

We had strong candidates. Of 26 candidates, 24 were local. Among the outsiders was Subhash Chawla. But he is a two-time former Mayor and was well known. We had all positive points. We adjusted every caste. We gave a ticket to a Muslim candidate. Instead of giving tickets to women only on nine reserved seats, we fielded 11 of them. Every factor was positive. Still the verdict was like this.

Did party dissidents have an impact on the result?

Dissidents do not impact the vote share too much. Anil Dubey (BJP candidate) polled 9,421 votes. Both our dissidents polled 1,700 votes. It is a huge difference. Even if they were with the party, the two would not have made a difference.

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