Controversy erupts as BJP wins Chandigarh mayor poll after 8 INDIA bloc votes invalidated
- EP News Service
- Jan 30, 2024
CHANDIGARH: BJP candidate Manoj Kumar Sonkar won the high-stakes Chandigarh mayoral election held on Tuesday, which was the first poll battle between the INDIA bloc and the BJP. However, it was marred by controversy and high drama at the municipal corporation House as the opposition parties accused presiding officer Anil Masih of vote tampering, claiming the votes "were deliberately made invalid".
He defeated the AAP-Congress joint candidate Kuldeep Singh after 8 votes of the opposition alliance candidate were declared invalid. Manoj Sonkar secured 16 votes out of the 36 total polled votes, including the vote of ex-officio member Kirron Kher MP, while the INDIA bloc candidate Kuldeep Singh secured 12 votes after 8 votes were declared invalid.
Chaos erupted in the House as the AAP-Congress protested the decision to declare 8 votes invalid, effectively leading to Sonkar's victory in the 35-member Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. The Chandigarh Mayor election was considered a litmus test for the INDIA bloc, where the Congress and AAP forged an alliance to challenge the BJP's stronghold on the mayor's office over the past eight years.
The AAP fielded its candidate for the mayor's position, while the Congress candidates contested for the senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor roles. In the previous election, the BJP won 14 out of 35 seats, and AAP had 13 councillors. Congress had seven representatives and Siromani Akalidal had 1 member in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.
Kuldeep Singh said that the action of the returning officer was very shocking that, unlike in the past, no representatives from the BJP and AAP-Congress bloc were called by the presiding officer to see the counting and check ballot papers.
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann said on the incident that the day would be remembered as the day the BJP-led Centre "murdered democracy". He also demanded that the presiding officer be booked under "sedition" laws for "deceiving" the Constitution.