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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Punjab local body polls: Fearing farmers’ ire, many party faces in fray as Independents

Even Congress candidates, despite being from the ruling party, are contesting as Independent candidates in 5 ‘C Class’ Municipal councils and two NPs.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
February 10, 2021 10:25:24 am
Candidate Paramjeet Kaur from ward number 9, Joga Nagar Panchayat (district Mansa) posing with her election symbol, a tractor.

Farmer unions’ decision to keep their agitation apolitical seems to have had an impact on the upcoming local body polls in Punjab where several known party faces have jumped into the fray as Independents. At least in four Municipal Councils (MC) and one Nagar Panchayat (NP), most candidates have entered the contest as Independents.

Even Congress candidates, despite being from the ruling party, are contesting as Independent candidates in 5 ‘C Class’ Municipal councils and two NPs.

In Municipal Councils (C Class) of Dhanaula, Bareta and Alawalpur  and Adampur, most candidates are in the fight without party symbol. In Joga Nagar Panchayat in Mansa, only one candidate of AAP is contesting on party symbol.

Apart from the above local bodies, Congress candidates are contesting as Independents in MC (C class) Anandpur Sahib and even in Kirtpur Sahib Nagar Panchayat.

In Adampur Municipal Council in Jalandhar district, total 47 candidates are contesting against 13 wards out of which  27 are Independents.  Five candidates of SAD are fighting on party symbol, 7 AAP candidates and only 3  from BJP and 5 from  BSP are contesting on party symbol. None of the Congress candidates is in the fray on party symbol in Adampur.

Joga is Nagar Panchayat with 13 seats and previously this NP election was won by CPI with 9 seats. Though majority of the farm unions are being labelled as being under the influence of Left parties, but CPI candidates too are contesting as Independents. AAP’s Gamdoor Singh from ward number 5 is the only one fighting on party symbol. A total of 28 candidates are contesting on 13 seats.

Gurmeet Singh Joga, former Vice President of Municipal Council Joga who is contesting as an Independent, said, “This time as everyone is contesting as Independent, we too decided to do the same.”

Interestingly, 13 candidates in Joga are contesting on the symbol of farmer driving a tractor.
One among them is Paramvir Singh Mann, former district president of Youth Congress in Mansa and also former general secretary Youth Congress, Punjab. Mann said,”We are with the farmers and this NP has a total of 7800 votes. All of us are fighting against farm laws and hence, this time we decided to fight as Independent candidates only. ”  Harjeet Singh Sonu, a villager , revealed, “About a month back when Mansa MLA Nazar Singh Manshahia had visited Joga NP, he had faced protest from farmers. Perhaps after that protest most candidates decided to contest as Independents.”

Bareta, is a C Class MC in Mansa where in 13 wards 44 candidates have been fielded out of which 43 are Independents while a lone candidate, Sandeep Kaur, is contesting from ward number 8 on AAP’s symbol.

Kaur’s husband Jeewan Singh said, “We have belief in ourselves and hence we dared to contest on party symbol. Congress despite being the ruling party is not able to contest on symbol.”

Jagraj Singh, who was seen in the area as a Congress leader, is contesting as an Independent from ward number 4. He said, “I was part of People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) earlier formed by Manpreet Singh Badal and later when he merged his party in Congress, I joined Congress. However, as farmers’ are fighting for their rights for the past 6 months and this mandi is part of villages, so all the Congress candidates decided to contest as Independents to support the farmers. I am getting a huge response from the area and I have only one opponent against me.”

Mehma Singh, a resident of Dhanaula in district Barnala, revealed that same was the case in  MC (C class) Dhanaula which has 13 wards and 49 candidates in fray out of which 47 are Independents and two are BJP candidates  Parminder Singh, from ward number 2, and Jagtar Singh, from ward number 4,  are fighting on party symbol but they have not even started their campaign as yet fearing protests while elections are scheduled on Sunday.

Mehma said, “We don’t like anyone to come to us with party symbol. We are fed up with all parties. Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer is the AAP MLA of Dhanaula but despite that, he has not been able to field candidates on party symbol. We all are busy in protests against farm laws as pakka dharnas are going on at Badbar toll plaza and a petrol pump in Dhanaula. So we have no desire to talk about any candidate.”

Alawalpur is a C class MC in Jalandhar where in 11 wards, 37 candidates are contesting out of which 30 are Independents. One each from BSP and SAD, 2 from BJP and 3 from AAP are contesting on party symbol.

Congress in Anandpur Sahib (C class) MC is also contesting as Independent in 13 wards while same is the case in NP Kirtpur Sahib, where ruling party’s candidates are fighting as Independents on all the 11 wards.

Daljeet Singh Cheema, spokesperson of SAD, said, “Rana KP Singh is the sitting MLA of Anandpur Sahib. He is Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha and despite that party did not dare to field his candidates on party symbol as they have severe criticism in the area. However, we are contesting on party symbol in Anandpur Sahib as well as Kirtpur Sahib. Yes, in few other councils, as per the previous trends, our candidates have gone as Independents as well because in small councils and NPs, personal relations matter more.”

AAP leader Harpal Singh Cheema also stated that in few councils specially in C class and NP candidates were given freedom to decide on their own and hence many are contesting as Independents.

State Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said: “In few councils, there were more claimants and they have settled amicably amongst themselves by contesting as Independents. Otherwise the majority of the candidates are contesting on party symbol only.”

After Congress, AAP is the second party which has fielded the maximum candidates on party symbol.

While Congress has fielded 2,037 candidates on party symbol, AAP has fielded on 1606. SAD has fielded 1569 candidates on party symbol. Total of 2,832 Independents are in fray on 2215 wards of 117 urban local bodies (ULBs) of Punjab.

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