All the political parties have failed to field their candidates in almost all 21 wards of the Dhuri municipal council. Only Independent candidates are in the fray. Most of them, rejecting party symbols, preferred to contest the polls as Independent canidates.
Interestingly, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had recently showered grants of several crores of rupees for developmental projects in the Dhuri assembly segment, but they seem to have not helped to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the town as the party could not find candidates for the election and managed to field its candidate on only one seat, whereas 13 candidates refused to accept the party symbol and are contesting as Independents.
The condition of the Congress is also worse as no party candidate is in the fray and it is supporting Independents on all 21 seats. The Congress had won 11 seats out of 17 in the municipal committee polls in 2003.
The BJP has managed to persuade its candidates to contest on the party symbol on seven seats it got under seat-sharing with the SAD. However, the BJP is supporting Independent candidates on seven seats, who have assured to join the party after victory.
"We are supporting the Independent candidates, who have assured to support and join the BJP after winning the election," said Vikas Jain, president of Dhuri wing of the BJP.
When asked about the issue, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) vice-president Surinder Pal Sibia said, "Yes, we are supporting Independents in Dhuri. The SAD could not candidates for the election even after chief minister Parkash Singh Badal distributed crores of rupees during the sangat dharshan programme in Dhuri, so we also decided to support Indipendents," he said.
However, Congress' district unit chief Roop Kaur Bagrian accused the Dhuri returning officer for not allotting party symbols they had demanded for the Congress-supported Independent candidates. "We were demanding one symbol for all the 21 Independent candidates we are supporting, but the election officer refused to give the same symbol to all. The multiple symbols will confuse the voters," said Bagrian.
Row proves costly for BJP in Sangrur
The controversy between the SAD and the BJP in Sangrur proved costly for the BJP's Sangrur unit chief Jogi Ram Sahani's daughter-in-law Bindu Sahani, who could not contest the poll from ward number 12 on the party symbol and is now contesting as Independent as the ward was given to the SAD in the last moment.
Now, the SAD's Vijay Lankesh will contest from this ward on the party symbol. Earlier, ward 14 was given to the BJP under the seat-sharing formula. However, there also the BJP is in for a setback as the SAD has decided to support Independent candidate Jasvinder Singh Prince against the BJP's Vinod Kumar.
The BJP's working committee member Lalit Garg said that the BJP has got ward number 14 back, but as our candidate from ward number 12 will now contest independently, so our candidate from ward number 14 will also contest independently," he said, adding, "The decision has been taken after a meeting with SAD leaders."
However, the SAD-BJP fight also proved costly for Harpal Singh of the Congress, as he will also contest as an Independent now. "The Congress could not decide a candidate till the last hour as the SAD-BJP was non-committal on the candidates, but we will support Harpal Singh, who is now an Independent candidate," said vice-president of PPCC Surinder Pal Sibia.