In a major setback to Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, the opposition Congress on Thursday won the seats of chairman and vice-chairman of the Doraha block samiti, falling under Payal constituency, from where Atwal is the sitting Akali MLA.
Of the 146 panchayat blocks across the state, the Congress won only two, the other being Balachaur in Nawanshahr district.
For the post of chairman, reserved for a Schedule Caste woman, Harbans Kaur was declared the winner, while Kulwant Singh bagged the vice-chairman's post.
The Congress candidates were elected unopposed as the seven Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) members of the block samiti decided not to attend the meeting held in the block development and panchayati raj office, Doraha. Of the 16 block samiti seats, the Congress had won nine.
Subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Mahender Pal presided over the election and declared the results.
The Payal assembly segment, before getting reserved in the SC category in the 2012 assembly polls, had remained a Congress citadel. The constituency was represented by former chief minister Beant Singh as well as his family members.
In the 2012 assembly polls, the Congress had fielded a young candidate, Lakhbir Singh Lakha (36), who lost to Atwal by only around 600 votes. Of the three zila parishad (ZP) seats falling under Payal, the Congress won two.
In Ludhiana, of the 21 ZP seats, the Congress won only three. The election for the block samiti chairman was earlier scheduled on August 5, but it was postponed after SAD members alleged that they had not received the agenda items for the meeting.
"SAD leaders led by Atwal tried everything to influence our members. They even threatened them and offered money, but to no avail. Eventually, democracy has prevailed," said Lakha, the Congress incharge from Payal.
The Congress has also won several seats of sarpanches in the segment.