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Punjab

Cong sweeps Punjab rural polls; Akalis down, AAP out

September 23, 2018 05:29 AM

COURTESY HT SEP 23

Sukhdeep Kaur sukhdeep.kaur@hindustantimes.com
Cong sweeps Punjab rural polls; Akalis down, AAP out
Shiromani Akali Dal a distant second, while Aam Aadmi Party fails to make a mark
CHANDIGARH: The ruling Congress continued its winning spree in Punjab by sweeping elections to 22 zila parishads and 150 panchayat samitis, results of which were declared on Saturday.

SANJEEV KUMAR/HT
■ As the Congress registered victory in majority of zones of block samiti and zila parishad polls, party workers celebrating outside the counting centre in Bathinda on Saturday.
The opposition parties drew a blank in some zila parishads, including chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s home turf Patiala, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar’s parliamentary seat Gurdaspur and stronghold of former ruling family of the Badals Bathinda and Mansa. In others too, the Congress got a clear lead.

The party got an overwhelming mandate in all panchayat samitis polls too.

Though the Congress has been able to hammer the Akalis and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in a row after coming to power in March last year starting from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, municipal body elections and Shahkot assembly bypoll, it had armoured itself for the rural elections by releasing the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission report on sacrilege and police firing incidents of 2015 and debating it in the Punjab assembly, a day before the polls were announced.

The report set the tone and tenor for the elections by pushing Akalis on the back foot in their own “Panthic” constituency following indictment of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for police firing at Kotkapura and both Badal and son, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, for Akal Takht pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a blasphemy case.

The Akalis lagged behind even in Muktsar district, Badal’s home turf, barring Malout where SAD won more block samiti seats than Congress’ tally.

The Akalis also trumped the Congress in Majitha, Bikram Singh Majithia’s bastion, where 28 of 32 panchayat samiti zones and all four zones of zila parishad went to the Akalis.

The Akalis can take consolation in the fact that the slide of the principal opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) continued with this election. Contesting each election with diminishing returns, the AAP could muster just a handful of panchayat samiti seats in its kitty.

AAP’s crisis has only deepened with a vertical split in its ranks after the rebellion of Sukhpal Khaira, who had opposed the move to contest these polls.

The elections were marred by allegations of rigging and clashes between the Akalis and Congress workers as Sukhbir brazened it out by throwing open challenges through his “Pol Khol” rallies at Abohar, home turf state Congress chief Jakhar, and Faridkot, where he alleged that Sikh radicals “propped by the Congress were staging a sham protest”.

The hardliners too clashed with the Akalis.

The results will also set the pitch for gram panchayat elections likely to be held later this year and 2019 Lok Sabha polls. PATIALA: Under the shadow of the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission (retd) report, which brought taint to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the ruling Congress swept the zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections in Malwa, considered as the stronghold of the SAD.

The Congress routed the SADBJP alliance and opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Malwa, even as the SAD managed to make a comeback in some pockets. The AAP, which was force to reckon with in last Lok Sabha and assembly election is Malwa belt, failed to make a mark.

The Congress registered landslide victory in Faridkot, where Akalis held a rally before elections, by winning all 10 zila parishad and 55 seats out of 62 of panchayat samiti.

The seats of Bargari, where a Sikh hardliners are holding a “morcha” against the government demanding action against the Badals and police officials indicted by the Ranjit panel, also went into Congress’ kitty.

While, the Congress routed the Akalis in Badals’ bastion Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar (comprising nine assembly seats of the Bathinda Lok Sabha segment), and other nearby districts, it also successfully retained Patiala Royals stronghold Patiala, Sangrur and Fatehagrh Sahib, which once it lost to the AAP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Congress made a clean sweep in the zila parishad elections in Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib by winning all seats.

In Bathinda, trouncing SAD and AAP, the Congress won all 16 seats of zila parishad. Congress also won 117 seats of panchayat samitis in Bathinda district out of 144. SAD managed to win only 15 seats of block samitis while AAP that has three MLAs in the district won only five seats. Seven seats went to independents.

In Mansa, which has two AAP and one SAD MLA, the Congress won all 11 zila parishad seats.

In Fazilka, Congress won 11 out of 15 zila parishad seats, while SAD managed to win only four. The only solace for the SAD was from Jalalabad, assembly segment represented by SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, as the party won two of the three zila parishad seats. However, the Congress managed to win panchayat samiti polls here bagging 13 out of 25 seats.

BIG WIN IN MANN’S HOME TURF SANGRUR

SANGRUR: The ruling Congress has bagged 123 of the 193 zones in the ten panchayat samitis in Sangrur district, the home turf of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Bhagwant Mann.


While the SAD won 27 panchayat samiti zones, the AAP could secure only three zones. The Lok Insaaf Party won a single zone while eight zones were won by independents. As many as 18 panchayat samiti candidates were elected unopposed. The results of 13 zones were awaited till the filling of the report

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