Delivering a major blow to the Congress and denting the ruling BJPs plans in the run-up to the Assembly elections,the CPM on Monday scripted history by winning the posts of Shimlas mayor and deputy mayor. While Sanjay Chauhan CPMs most familiar face in the town will replace Congresss Madhu Sood as the mayor,Tikender Singh Panwar,a former students leader,will be the deputy mayor.
Chauhan won by a margin of 7,868 votes against his closest rival from the BJP,S S Minhas a former head of department of surgery at Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla. Sood could only manage the third position. Panwar also posted an impressive fight by gaining a lead of 4,778 votes against Digvijay Singh son of the late Daulat Ram Chauhan,a senior BJP leader. The CPM also bagged three municipal wards.
The results have come as a rude shock to the Congress,as it not only lost the top two posts,but also failed to retain its majority in the 25-member MC. It could win only 10 wards,one of this by just two votes following a re-count. The party had 15 councillors in the incumbent House.
The BJP,however,emerged as the single largest party by winning 12 councillors seats against eight in the earlier House. But the partys plans to wrest the mayor and deputy mayors posts collapsed against the CPMs aggressive campaign,which touched common voters and made deep penetrations in the Congress and BJPs votebank. This was also the first election where 50 per cent of the seats were reserved for women.
In the vote tally,while Sanjay Chauhan polled 21,903 out of total 51,115 votes,Minhas polled 14,035 votes and Sood got 13,278 votes. Tikender Panwar polled 21,196 votes against 16,418 of Digvijay Singh. Congresss Divender Chauhan got 13,205 votes. In the 2007 Assembly elections,Sanjay Chauhan had lost to BJPs Suresh Bhardwaj.