Now,Cong and BJP bank on municipal polls for revival

But rural-based SP and BSP have not sponsored candidates

Written by Lalmani Verma | Lucknow | Published: June 23, 2012 2:32:32 am

But rural-based SP and BSP have not sponsored candidates

The municipal elections in UP,which get under way on Saturday,have become a battleground between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Both are using the elections to reactivate their party organisation and raise the morale of the workers after the drubbing they had got in the Assembly elections earlier this year.

Unlike them,the ruling Samajwadi Party and the main opposition Bahujan Samaj Party have decided not to sponsor candidates,mainly because both parties are rural based.

The elections,spread over six phases,are being conducted in 639 urban local bodies,including 12 municipal corporations,194 nagarpalika parishads and 423 nagar panchayats. Election for the Municipal Corporation of Saharanpur will be held later. The state has direct election of mayors,which sometimes leads to the anomalous situation where the mayor is from one party while another party has the majority in the house.

The BJP and the Congress are contesting all seats in the 12 municipal corporations and around 75 per cent seats of nagarpalika parishads and nagar panchayats. A large number of independents and candidates of smaller parties are also in the fray. The SP and the BSP have allowed the party workers to contest the election,but not allotted them party symbols,nor can they use party flags. So for all practical purposes,they are as good as independents.

Nevertheless,both parties have told their workers to ensure that they have one candidate on every seat. BSP president and former chief minister Mayawati,who has been camping in Lucknow for the past few days,is taking personal interest in these elections. The SP has also told its leaders to “unofficially” support party workers who are placed well.

But the two parties are officially uninvolved in these elections because the urban areas have been strongholds of the national parties. In the last elections,held in 2006,BJP candidates had become mayors in eight cities,Congress in three and the Samajwadi Party in one. The BJP had also won a majority in the municipal corporations of Aligarh,Kanpur,Ghaziabad,Gorakhpur,Lucknow,Varanasi and Meerut. The BJP had its mayor in Agra also,although the BSP controlled the municipal corporation.

In Jhansi and Allahabad,the Congress had its mayor,although no party had a majority. The Congress had its mayor in Bareilly also,although the BSP had a majority. Only in Moradabad,SP’s S T Hasan was elected mayor and the party also had a majority.

Senior leaders of the Congress and the BJP are fully involved in the elections. State Congress president Rita Bahuguan Joshi and BJP’s state president Laxmikant Bajpai are busy campaigning. Both see these elections as an opportunity to rejuvenate their party after the Assembly elections.

Joshi said that local body elections were extremely important for the Congress as former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi had a vision to make the local bodies to function like a ‘local government’. The Congress wanted to win these elections to show “how the local bodies should ideally function for welfare of all sections of the society”.

Bajpai said the elections will activate the party cadres. “If BJP workers win and reach the local bodies with majority,the party’s link with the people will strengthen,” he said.

In Lucknow,the BJP has given a ticket to sitting mayor Dr Dinesh Sharma while the Congress has fielded Neeraj Bora,a physician,against Sharma.

Lucknow was long regarded as a stronghold of the BJP,but the party did badly in the Assembly elections in the state capital. Only one of its candidates,national vice-president Kalraj Mishra,managed to win from Lucknow East. The beneficiaries were the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.

In the first phase,polling will be held in Luckow on Saturday. On Sunday,it will be held in 18 districts. In 17 districts,polling will be held on June 27 and in 20 districts on July 1. Polling in other 16 districts has been scheduled for July 4. Counting of votes will be held on July 7.

In four districts of Kannauj,Ramabai Nagar,Auraiya and Mathura — where polling was deferred for various reasons — it will be held on July 18 and counting of votes on July 21.

Changing Allahabad mayoral nominee a collective decision: Rita

ALLAHABAD: UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Friday said the decision to change the party’s Mayoral candidate for Allahabad at the last minute was a collective one. Joshi’s nominee Satya Pandey was the party candidate before being asked to pull out at the eleventh hour amid strong opposition from lone Congress MLA Anugraha Narayan Singh. The party then decided to support Shree Wadhawan,wife of former Mayor Ravi Wadhawan. The election will be held on June 27.

“Shree Wadhawan is quite popular in the social sector. If she wins,it will be to her credit. But if she loses,then the party will have to take the responsibility.” She said the decision to support Wadhawan was taken by a three-member committee at the state level,which comprised the then Congress Legislative Party leader Pramod Tiwari and an AICC observer,besides herself. “But prior to that the district unit and other important leaders had been consulted,” she said.

She rejected allegations that money played an important role in party’s decision to favour Wadhawan for Mayoral post. “It is not true. It was not that Pandey was too weak from that point of view. But I thank her and am grateful that,when I asked her to do so,she withdrew like a disciplined party worker.”

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