The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) won a decisive victory over its otherwise-ally BJP in Tarn Taran, where the two partners fought a bitter battle against for control of the 23-member municipal council (MC), votes for which were cast on Wednesday along with the local bodies of other towns of Punjab.
The Akalis won 16 of the seats, with the remaining seven going to the BJP. The Congress drew a blank. This was a loss particularly for the state's local bodies minister and BJP's firebrand Anil Joshi, whose prestige was at stake in his hometown. He had challenged the local Akali MLA and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Harmeet Singh Sandhu, a loyalist of revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who did not like the very presence of the BJP leader in his area.
The only consolation for Joshi was the victory of his younger brother Rakesh Kumar Joshi, alias Raja, who won from Ward 14.
The campaign for control of the MC had commenced with an alleged attack on the younger Joshi by Sandhu's loyalists. The venom thereafter was apparent in nasty posters about the violent streaks of each other.
Cong routed in region
The Congress, as predicted, faced a total rout in the Majha belt, failing to win any of the 16 MCs and the lone nagar panchayat. It could not even take advantage of the friction between the SAD and BJP at a number of places.
With this, once again the reputation of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa took a beating, as the party failed to win in his home district of Gurdaspur too. The SAD-BJP alliance held onto the council there, winning 13 seats, compared to five for the Congress. Nine seats went to Independents.
The Congress even lost from Bajwa's hometown of Qadian, bagging only two of the 15 seats. Nine of the seats there went to the SAD and four to Independents. In fact, the Congress failed to win any of the councils in the assembly constituencies represented by the party's MLAs. Besides Qadian, these include the councils in Fatehgarh Churian, Dera Baba Nanak, Dinanagar and Batala.
In Batala, where local MLA Ashwani Sekri was unhappy with reported interference by Bajwa, the Congress failed to open its account.
However the Akalis were jolted in Sri Hargobindpur, where its rebels secured eight of the 11 seats. The official SAD nominees won only from two wards, while one went to another Independent. Almost the entire Akali leadership of this town had rebelled against MLA and CPS Desh Raj Dhugga over ticket-allotment.
For the lone council of Sujanpur in Pathankot district, the BJP retained power with 10 seats, while three went to the Congress and the remaining two to Independents.
Majithia gets boost
In Amritsar district, the SAD-BJP alliance retained power in all the five councils, in Ajnala, Ramdass, Majitha, Rayya and Jandiala. It was a victory for Majitha MLA Majithia, in particular, as he had a hand in the selection of candidates in three of the five councils.
In Majitha, where the SAD firebrand led the campaign, the Congress failed to open its account. Only in Rayya did the Congress put up some resistance, winning four of the 13 seats; in Jandiala it could win just one seat.
In Ajnala, where local MLA and CPS Amarpal Singh Bony was facing problems from within his party, the Akalis swept the Congress off its feet, winning all 15 seats. However, in Ramdass, an Akali rebel did cause some anxiety, though at the end Bony's candidates emerged victorious winning seven of the 11 seats. Here, too, the Congress drew a blank.
Victory for Kairon
In Patti, food and civil supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon's reputation remained intact, as the Akalis retained power. After having won five seats unopposed, the party went on to bag 13 of the seats for which votes were cast. Only one seat went to the Congress.
In Bhikhiwind, where the SAD and BJP fought separately, the saffron party emerged victorious with 12 seats, while one ward went to an Independent.