A day after poll results of the municipal councils and nagar panchayats were announced, the ruling SAD-BJP alliance on Thursday appeared to be going all out to achieve power combinations with Independents in over 30 towns of Punjab where it is short of a majority.
The Independents, however, if they remain united and choose not to rally behind either the alliance or the Congress, can hold on their own in at least 28 municipalities in Punjab where they are in simple majority.
The SAD-BJP combine is comfortably in the saddle in over 80 of the 122 municipalities that went to polls. At most of these places, the SAD is likely to have the council or NP president. However, at Batala, Sujanpur, Dinangar, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Mukerian, Urmur Tanda, Banga, Nangal and Rajpura, where the BJP has won more seats than the SAD, the saffron party will stake the claim for the municipality head’s chair.
But, with Independents performing much better than the Congress in the elections, the alliance is confident of increasing its victory tally. That task seems easier at Dasuya, Sham Chaurasi, Dhuri, Garhshankar and Kot Shamir, where the numbers needed are one or two, with little possibility of a counterclaim from the Congress.
The Congress, which was virtually decimated in these polls, has only a handful of places where it can claim supremacy. It has clear majority at three places: Nawanshahr, Patran and Doraha. It is eying Phillaur, Urmur Tanda, Khanna, Gobindgarh, Banur, Abohar and Faridkot, where it can ally with independents and have a majority.
The SAD and Congress are in a close contest to wrest the support of Independents at Gidderbaha, Gurdaspur, Malerkotla, Lehragaga, Samrala, Sultanpur Lodhi and Barnala. At Gidderbaha, where Congress got nine seats and SAD eight in the 19-member council, the SAD is said to have “managed” a majority with the support of the two Independents. Protesting against this, the local Congress MLA, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, who is also the national president of the Youth Congress, walked barefoot with his supporters in the town on Thursday.
In Malerkotla, the ruling alliance got 14 seats, and the Congress got the same number, in a 33-seat council. The SAD now claims support of three of the five Independents. In Lehragaga, again, the SAD-BJP and the Congress have five seats each in the 15-member House. Both parties are now claiming to have the support of the five Independents. firstname.lastname@example.org