In Malwa, tough fight by Independents

  • Kamaldeep Singh Brar and Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times, Bathinda/Patiala
  • Updated: Feb 26, 2015 09:15 IST

The SAD and BJP won most of the councils and nagar panchayats in Malwa region, though after facing some stiff competition from Independents.

In traditional Akali bastions like Bathinda, Mansa and Muktsar, the alliance barely managed to get majority. Congress got the majority in only a handful of councils in Khanna and Doraha in Ludhiana and Patran in Patiala. Independent candidates made a major mark in Rupnagar, Mansa and Mohali.

Congress failed miserably in the Bathinda belt where Independents gained on its failure.

Throwing up surprise, four out of the six local bodies in Mansa district were swept by Independents, owing to the absence of a strong, organised opposition to the ruling alliance.

Initially, Gidderbaha seemed the one sweet fruit for the Congress in Muktsar but even that happiness was shortlived with the SAD tying up with two independents to gain majority here. The Joga nagar panchayat witnessed the poorest performance of the SAD and BJP, with the alliance winning only one of the 13 seats; the rest went to Independents. The ruling alliance again remained behind Independents in Mansa, Bareta and Budhlada councils in Mansa district. The SAD-BJP just about managed to grab Sardulgarh and Boha.

In Bathinda district, too, out of the 18 councils the SAD-BJP got power in 12. Already, 49 candidates of the alliance had won unopposed on the 226 seats, with the Congress boycotting the elections in Rampura Phul block. Of the rest of the 169 seats that saw polls, the SAD-BJP alliance won 100 and Independents won 60.

At Goniana, Kot Shamir, Balianwali and Mandi Kalan, Independents won more seats than the SAD-BJP. Bathinda is represented by SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Parliament, but she remained absent from the campaign. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal’s constituency Jalalabad saw SAD-BJP take16 out of the 17 seats in the council. Independents also got a thumbs up in Faridkot district where they won 31 out of 71 seats in the three local bodies.

Despite the heavy response to Independents in Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot, results in Ferozepur, Fazilka and Moga remained according to expectations, and the ruling alliance had a cakewalk.

In AAP area
With clear victories in Barnala and Patiala, the SAD-BJP alliance appeared to recapture this part of Malwa that was swept by the “broom’ of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Lok Sabha elections.

In Sangrur, however, the SAD scraped through with a large number voting for Independents too. In Barnala too SAD faced a tough challenge from Independents.

In the absence of the AAP in the fray, the SAD-BJP routed the Congress in all these districts, whereas, in some municipalities, Independent got the key. The Congress won only Patran.

In Sangrur, the ruling alliance won 76 out of the 143 wards they contested on the party symbol out of a total 177.

Independents won 74 wards in all, pushing the Congress far behind, at just 27 of the 88 wards that the main opposition party contested on its symbol.

Royal shocker
In Patiala, the bastion of Congress MP and former CM Capt Amarinder Singh, the most shocking result for the Congress came from Samana, the seat nurtured by Amarinder’s son Raninder Singh. The Congress failed to open its account in the 23-seat council, where minister Surjit Singh Rakhra led the SAD-BJP alliance to victory. The SAD-BJP alliance won Samana, Nabha, Rajpura and Sanaur.

Overall, the SAD won 40 seats, BJP 25, Congress 20 and Independents 17, out of the 103 seats in five towns, that are, Rajpura, Nabha, Samana, Patran and Sanaur. In Fatehgarh Sahib, it was a day of Independents, as the SAD-BJP only won Sirhind.

Elsewhere in Malwa
With 78.3% voting registered for six councils of Ludhiana, the SAD-BJP alliance managed to bag the highest number of seats in Payal, Samrala and Jagraon, while the Congress made its mark in Khanna and Doraha. However, independent candidates bagged the highest number of seats in Raikot.It was an all SAD-BJP show in Moga.

The ruling alliance shared power with Independents in Mohali and Ropar. The alliance managed to gain majority in five of the seven civic bodies in Mohali and two out of six in Ropar.

The Congress failed to make its presence felt in Dera Bassi and Zirakpur councils and in the Lalru nagar panchayat.

The party did not field its candidates in Kharar and Kurali, but it is now claiming that Independents, who won from both the places, are Congressmen.

Inputs by: Anshu Seth (Ludhiana), Hillary Victor (Mohali) and Bahadurjeet Singh (Rupnagar)

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