With less than a month left for the mayoral elections in the municipal corporation (MC), the Congress, whose candidates have won the post continuously for seven years in a row, is expected to face a tough race this time. Meanwhile, nominated councillors, who are expected to play a pivotal role in the polls, scheduled for January 1, have said they would vote only for a “suitable” candidate and not for one belonging to any particular party, accusing both Congress and the BJP of ‘cheating’ their constituents.
With two Congress councillors Raj Bala Malik and Sat Prakash Aggarwal joining the BJP, the party is left with only 10 of the 35 councillors.
Though the BJP-SAD alliance also lost a member with the death of Malkiat Singh, it still hopes to get the support of nominated councillors this time. At present the BJP-Akali alliance’s combined voting strength in the MC house is 13, including the vote of city MP Kirron Kher, who is an ex-officio member. A candidate needs 18 votes to win the mayoral race.
The nine nominated councillors play a decisive role in electing the mayor, senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor as both the Congress and the BJP have more or less an equal number of councillors. During the past three years they have supported the Congress candidate for the mayor’s seat, but last January they backed the BJP-SAD candidate for the posts of deputy and senior deputy mayor. In 2012 the BSP, which has two members in the House, unsuccessfully contested the mayoral race but for the past two years has been supporting the Congress candidate.
One of the nominated councillors, MP Kohli, said, “We’ve seen the performance of both parties during the past three years and both of them have cheated us. The BJP has always opposed our voting rights and the Congress has dragged us into the day market controversy and asked us to pay `22 lakh. We’re united and will vote for a suitable candidate only and not for one belonging to any particular party.”
Former mayor Subhash Chawla said this time the Congress seems to have better candidates and we hope the one running for mayor will be selected on merit. Moreover, the infighting within the BJP would help the Congress win comfortably.
Deputy mayor Davesh Moudgil said, “This year the scenario has changed and we expect nominated councillors to cast their votes on the basis of the candidate’s performance.”
During the past 18 years, the Congress has occupied the mayor’s post 13 times, while the BJP-SAD combine got the seat five times.