It was a day of upsets for the Congress as one heavyweight after the other lost the municipal corporation elections, as results poured out on Tuesday. With just four seats in its kitty, this was one of the poorest show by the party in the five municipal elections held till now.
The Congress had won 11 seats in the previous elections held in 2011, and 12 and 13 in 2006 and 2001 respectively. In the first-ever elections held in 1996, the party had its worst show, winning just one seat, while the BJP won 14 and five went to Chandigarh Vikas Manch.
The Congress, which has had a strong voter base in colonies in the past 15 years, this time lost to woo voters there besides in urban areas. The party’s performance was visibly poor in all wards, barring wards 5, 9, 18 and 15.
Among the bigwigs, Congress candidate and two-time mayor Subhash Chawla lost from ward 16 while Ritu Chhabra, wife of city Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra, lost from Ward 3. Other ex-mayors Poonam Sharma and Harphool Chander Kalyan also faced defeats in wards 4 and 7 respectively.
Infighting among Congress leaders and poor managerial skills during the elections put a dent on the party’s chances to some extent.
Congress rebel Sunder Mukhi Sharma, who contested as an Independent from ward 1, bagged 1,000 votes, denting the chances of party candidate HS Lucky, who lost to the BJP’s Mahesh Inder Sidhu by just 324 votes.
The party also failed to encash upon the inconvenience being caused to the public after demonetisation announcement.
Also, the Congress failed to invite any star campaigner, while the BJP had a number of star campaigners turning the tide in their favour. Congress in-charge for Chandigarh Asha Kumari did not even visit the city during the campaigning. The party had to manage the show with former Union minister and city MP Pawan Kumar Bansal.
Chandermukhi Sharma, former Union minister Manish Tewari’s loyalist, said: “The Congress defeat is on the expected lines, as there was wrong distribution of tickets and no organisational setup. Both Pawan Kumar Bansal and Pardeep Chhabra run the party as a private limited company.”
Surprisingly, Congress candidate Devinder Singh Babla won from ward 18 by a margin of 807 votes, defeating BJP heavyweight Saurabh Joshi. Gurbax Rawat also managed to retain her ward 9 seat, defeating SAD candidate Inderjeet Kaur by 2,128 votes.