With less than two months to go for Gurgaon’s civic elections, all major political parties are sweating to come out victorious.
Stakes are high for everyone as victory would re-emphasize the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) increasing sphere of influence while it would be a morale booster for the Congress that has been loosing its footing in recent elections. For the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), it is a chance to make inroads into Haryana.
The experience of its candidates, recent civic results, and a weak opposition are in the favour of the BJP. The party is looking to appease its factions and field the same candidates that won the election in 2011.
The Congress and the AAP, meanwhile, are still trying to find suitable candidates.
Senior BJP leaders, however, are divided over repeating last term’s councillors as candidates.
In 2011, only four BJP supported candidates won seats. Congress had secured the posts of mayor, senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor.
Later, when local MP and Union minister of state Rao Inderjit Singh switched from the Congress to the BJP, 20 elected councillors, including the three top post holders, also made the switch.
One faction of the BJP views the 20 councillors as Inderjit’s loyalists whose allegiance to the party cannot be trusted. Hence, the faction is in favour of slotting candidates from the party’s cadre. The other faction views them as tried and tested candidates who are capable of securing a landslide victory.
“The party is in the process of finalising candidates and accordingly, preparations for the upcoming elections are underway,” Bhupender Chauhan, Gurgaon district BJP president, said.
The Congress had lost a significant hold after most of its councillors defected. In 2014, the Congress won only 15 of the 90 seats in the state legislative assembly elections. In last month’s civic elections in Faridabad, it failed to secure a seat. The party leaders, though, are unfazed by recent results and claim they have been gaining ground.
“The anti-incumbency wave against the BJP is significant in Gurgaon as their decisions have adversely hit the industrial sector and work opportunities to contractual wage-earners. In such a scenario, the party is confident of securing a victory,” a senior Congress leader said.
For the AAP, ward 30 councillor Nisha Singh is their sole representative. The party did not take shape when the last election was held. The party is yet to find its feet in the state and it is unlikely to field a large candidate list.
“As a first-time entrant, the party is looking forward to the upcoming elections to make its presence felt in Gurgaon,” Singh said.She did not comment on the number of candidates her party would field.
Naveen Jaihind, AAP’s Haryana convener, had stated that the party will shift its attention towards Haryana after the Punjab elections.
Municipal corporation election is due in March following the Punjab and Haryana high court’s order. The tenure of 35 elected councillors ended in June but the polls scheduled in May has been delayed because of confusion over a wards’ delimitation order issued in 2016.