Congress candidate Poonam Sharma, 52, and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Heera Negi, 50, both first-time councillors, are set to face each during the mayoral elections on Tuesday. It will be a keen contest with no clear mandate emerging so far. A similar contest was witnessed in 2007, when Harjinder Kaur of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had defeated Congress candidate Anu Chatrath by one vote.
In the 35-member House, the BJP-SAD alliance has 14 councillors, while the Congress has nine. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has two councillors, and there are nine nominated members, besides an independent councillor. To emerge winner, a candidate will have to fetch at least 18 votes.
The BJP has high hopes as three Congress councillors recently joined the party. With already 14 councillors being from the BJP-SAD fold, it needs another four to clinch victory. The 14 votes include that of member of Parliament Kirron Kher, who is an ex-officio member of the MC.
Congress with nine votes claims to have mustered the support of six nominated councillors, two BSP councillors and the lone independent. The Congress has had its mayor for seven consecutive years now.
The House will also elect a senior deputy mayor and a deputy mayor. For senior deputy mayor, Congress has fielded Satish Kainth, while the SADBJP has fielded Rajesh Kumar. For the deputy mayor’s post, it will be SAD-BJP incumbent Davesh Moudgil against Gurbax Rawat of the Congress.
The BJP last time had its mayor in 1999-2000, when BJP’s Shanta Hit Abhilashi held the post. The party had also given the city its first mayor, Kamla Sharma in 1997. Councillors will cast their votes at 11am at the municipal corporation office in Sector 17. The results will be declared at 12pm.
Meanwhile, senior leaders of BJP and Congress on Monday held a meeting with their respective councillors to give them last-minute instructions. The councillors were categorically warned against indulging in any kind of cross voting. The Congress councillors were addressed by former MP Pawan Kumar Bansal.
Exhorting his clan, Bansal said they would definitely emerge victorious. Similarly, UT MP Kirron Kher addressed the BJP councillors to boost their morale.
Last minute campaigning was also on by the mayoral candidates, who met nominated and fellow councillors. Sources in both parties said the agendas of cross voting were also discussed, and the senior leaders asked all councillors to work towards victory of the party and rise above personal differences.