For ward number 3, the day was marked by a string of ups and downs. Monday began with Congress protests against ward result being withheld and the returning officer recommending a repoll.
However, by the evening, Congress rank and file had lost steam and its sitting councillor, who had claimed a lead of 156 votes from his nearest rival of Shiromani Akali Dal, chose to cross over to their side.
Joining the Akali Dal in Chandigarh on Monday evening, Surinder Chaudhary and scores of his supporters were welcomed into the party fold by revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and chief parliamentary secretary Inderbir Singh Bolaria. Chaudhary said only SAD-BJP combine could safeguard the interests of people and he had joined Akali Dal unconditionally for the welfare of his ward.
Earlier, despite protests from the Congress, the district election authorities refused to declare the result of ward number 3 and referred the matter to the state election commission with the recommendation of a re-poll.
It is now up to the SEC to decide whether to declare the result or order a re-poll in either all the 11 booths of the ward or only in those where reports of malpractices had reached the district returning officer and deputy commissioner Rajat Aggarwal.
However, it is learnt that the SEC has decided to hold reelection to the ward.
President of the urban unit of the Amritsar district Congress committee Jugal Kishore Sharma and Chaudhary had met Aggarwal, demanding that the result be declared. Sharma claimed the Congress candidate had won by 156 votes defeating the Akali Dal nominee Raj Kumar Jolly. "After the booth-wise counting on Sunday, our candidate had emerged victorious by 156 votes," he said. "However the DRO refused to declare the result and told us that he had referred the matter to the SEC."
Claiming that the SAD had indulged in large-scale malpractices, Sharma said in such a situation, the DRO should have no objection in declaring the result.
He alleged that a large number of people from rural areas roamed around the ward throughout the day on Sunday and not only intimidated the Congress voters, but also did not allow the party candidate to come out of his house.
In the report sent to the EC on Sunday night, the DRO had stated that there were reports/allegations of hacking of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and casting of bogus votes in 10 of the 11 booths in ward number 3.
The report states that to confirm allegations of hacking, the matter has been referred to the cyber crime wing of the Punjab Police.