Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillor Naresh Mahajan took charge as the president of the Batala municipal council at the council office on Monday, even as the party's alliance partner in the state government, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government boycotted the function.
SAD councillors have been claiming that the election of Mahajan was orchestrated and have also accused the presiding election officer,
sub-divisional magistrate JS Grewal, of bias. The BJP on its own had won 11 seats in the 35-member council. The SAD had won 14 and the rest had gone to Independents.
The police had expected protests by SAD workers and thus the ceremony was held amidst heavy police presence outside the council office.
As it turned out, the protests by SAD did not materialise, but there was a walkout and raised voices by the two BJP rebel councillors, who had supported Mahajan, claiming that the party had reneged on its promise to take them back into the party fold.
Supporters of the two dissident councillors - Raj Kumar Kali from ward number 30 and Sukhdev Mahajan from ward number 17 - claimed that on Monday morning itself they had been assured by BJP district in-charge Rakesh Jayoti that the duo would be taken back in the party, but the leaders were ignored at the function and thus walked out.
Meanwhile, district SAD president (urban) Subash Orhi alleged that they had filled a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana high court against the conduct of the poll and a decision on the plea was likely on Tuesday.
"The Batala council elections have been a murder of democracy. Even though the SAD had 18 of 35 councillors supporting its candidate Balbir Singh Bittu, yet the district administration declared Naresh Mahajan as elected. He had only 17 votes," he alleged.
He claimed that on the day of the elections, one of their councillors - Rajwant Singh Toni from ward number 8 - had fallen ill and had been admitted to a private hospital at Amritsar. "We tried to convince the SDM that the elections be postponed, but he ignored our pleas," Orhi claimed.
"The party high command has been apprised of the partial attitude of the administrative officers. We have sought strict action against them," he added.
Meanwhile, the new president Mahajan has been the district BJP president from 2008 to 2011 and for his election to this post, he managed to get the support of two BJP rebel councillors, local Congress MLA, Ashwani Sekhri, and five councilors owing allegiance to him, though they had contested as Independents, besides the 11 BJP councillors.
State BJP president, Kamal Sharma; general secretary Rakesh Rathore; former BJP MLA Jagdish Sahni and former state youth president Vivek Modgill were present during the function.
WHO IS NARESH MAHAJAN
"The new Batala municipal council president has been the district BJP president from 2008 to 2011.
"For his election to the post, he managed to get the support of two BJP rebel councillors, local Congress MLA Ashwani Sekhri and five councilors owing allegiance to him, though they had contested as Independents.