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SAD eyes 3 mayoral posts,opens door for rift

The SAD-BJP alliance may be headed for choppy waters as the Shiromani Akali Dal,having performed well in the recent municipal corporation elections,is eyeing three of the total four mayoral posts.

Written by Harpreet Bajwa | Chandigarh | Published: June 14, 2012 3:18:02 am

The SAD-BJP alliance may be headed for choppy waters as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD),having performed well in the recent municipal corporation elections,is eyeing three of the total four mayoral posts. The two parties have traditionally shared the posts. Ever since they forged an alliance in the state in 1997,the BJP has held the mayoral posts in Amritsar and Jalandhar,while Patiala and Ludhiana have had SAD mayors.

But now,hardline Sikh groups like the Sant Samaj and the Damdami Taksal have demanded that an Akali mayor serve in Amritsar. Sources say that a number of SAD councillors are also contemplating signing a letter,addressed to party president Sukhbir Badal,seeking an Akali mayor for Amritsar. Even the party circle in the Holy City is abuzz with this proposition.

In Amritsar,despite SAD increasing its tally from 15 wards in 2007 to 24 wards in the recent polls,its tally is identical to that of the BJP,which also won in 24 wards,up from 17 in the 2007 civic body elections.

The BJP on the other hand,did reasonably well in Ludhiana by winning in 12 wards.

Despite the party losing a ward this time around (the party won 13 seats here in 2007),the BJP’s performance is creditable as it had lost three Assembly seats in Ludhiana about two months ago. In Jalandhar,it retained the same number of seats it had won in the last polls (19). In Patiala,the BJP won seven seats,which is two less than the last time.

The Akalis increased their tally to 27 from 24 in Ludhiana,while in Patiala,they retained the same number of seats as last time (32). SAD only lost out in Jalandhar,where it won in 11 wards,three less than the last time.

If the BJP finally does retain the mayorship in Amritsar,then the race is between senior leader Bakshi Ram Arora,who is former chairman of the Amritsar Improvement Trust,Rajesh Honey and Sukhminder Pintu. While Arora and Pintu are considered close to Industries Minister Anil Joshi, Honey is considered close to MP Navjot Singh Sidhu.

As for Patiala,the race for the mayoral post,is between SAD’s incumbent Ajitpal Singh Kohli and three-time councillor Jaspal Singh Pardhan.

In Jalandhar the front runner’s are: Ravi Mahindru,Sunil Jyoti,Manjinder Singh Chatha and Rama Gopal Gupta – all from the BJP. In Ludhiana,the frontrunners for Mayor are Kamaljeet Singh Karwal,Pal Singh Grewal and sitting mayor Hakam Singh.

Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma said: “ The mayor posts of Amritsar and Jalandhar will remain with the BJP and of Ludhiana and Patiala with the Akali Dal,as this will be best arrangement for the healthy coalition dharma for both alliance partners”.

The BJP has called a core committee meeting for June 15,where the issue is likely to be discussed.

SAD spokesman Daljeet Singh Cheema,however,said: “Both the Akali Dal and the BJP High Command will sit together and take a final call on the issue”.

After candidate,Cong rebel joins SAD

AMRITSAR: Another day of dramatic developments continued to hold Amritsar’s ward 3 in the limelight on Wednesday as Congress candidate Dinesh Kumar along with his supporters switched loyalties and joined the SAD,a day after another candidate Surinder Chaudhary did the same. Kumar was welcomed to the SAD and presented by SAD Chief Parliamentary Secretary Inderbir Singh Bolaria.

Ward number 3 has been in the news ever since a SAD candidate from the area alleged that there had been attempts to hack Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in eight booths and bogus voting in two booths during the recent civic polls. The Amritsar administration then took up the issue with the state Election Commission and recommended a repolling the ward. The recommendation for a repoll was met by protests by the Congress. Amritsar District Congress Committee president Jugal Kishore Sharma held a press conference soon after insisting that Chaudhary had won the polls and that the Congress would move court if Chaudhary was not declared the winner. By evening,however,much to the surprise of Sharma,Chaudhary joined the SAD at Chandigarh.

While Amritsar police have sought the services of software engineers to investigate into the alleged hacking bid,the state Election Commission has so far ruled out the possibility of any hacking attempt and has ordered a repoll on June 15 in only two booths where the alleged bogus voting took place.

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