Even after the induction of a 'Majhail', Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa as president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), the opposition party faced a total rout at the hands of the SAD-BJP combine in the zila parishad and block samiti elections, counting for which was taken up on Tuesday at different places in Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Pathankot districts.
Despite Bajwa's presence during electioneering in the Majha belt, the Congress went down without a fight in the elections, which were marred by violence, with three people, including a block president of the Youth Congress and a block samiti candidate being killed. The results went the same way as the Amritsar municipal corporation (AMC) polls in May last when the Congress under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh could win just four seats in the 65-member House.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) retained power in the zila parishads of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran, while its ally, the BJP, romped home in Pathankot, where the party has three MLAs. The ruling alliance captured power in all the 34 block samitis of the four districts.
SAD retains Amritsar ZP, block samitis
Led by Youth Akali Dal (YAD) chief and cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia, the SAD besides retaining power in the zila parishad also retained the control of nine block samitis in the district.
The SAD was off to a winning start in the zila parishad elections when its candidates from nine zones were declared elected unopposed. Polling took place for 12 zones on Sunday and the Akali candidates emerged victorious in all these zones, thus making it a clean sweep for SAD in the 21-member Amritsar zila parishad.
The Akalis retained power in all the nine blocks of Tarsikka, Majitha, Ajnala, Harsha Chhina, Verka, Attari, Jandiala, Rayya and Chogawan. The Congress could not even win from Chogawan block, which falls in the Raja Sansi assembly segment, represented by party MLA Sukh Sarkaria.
Of the 176 block samitis, in 69 the SAD candidates had won unopposed. Elections were held for 107 samitis, of which the BJP won in three, the Congress five and Independents won two. The result of the remaining samitis went in favour of the Akalis, indicating the level of influence that they still have in the rural areas of the district.
Clean sweep by SAD in Tarn Taran
The SAD made a clean sweep in the zila parishad polls in Tarn Taran by winning all 17 zones. While in four zones, its candidates were declared elected unopposed, in the remaining 13, where elections were held, the Akalis won all the seats.
The scenario in the block samitis was also the same, with the Akalis retaining power in all the eight blocks of Valtoha, Bhikiwind, Gandiwind, Chola Sahib, Naushera Pannua, Patti, Khadoor Sahib and Tarn Taran. The Congress failed to put up a fight even in Khadoor Sahib and Chola Sahib blocks, which fall in the Khadoor Sahib assembly constituency represented by Congress MLA Ramanjit Singh Sikki.
Of the 128 samitis, in 16 samitis SAD candidates were elected without a contest. Election to the Nadoor zone was countermanded due to the murder of Sukhraj Singh, a Congress candidate. Election were held in 111 zones and in all, barring one, Akali candidates emerged victorious.
Impressive show by BJP in Pathankot
The BJP, which won all the three seats of Bhoa, Pathankot and Sujanpur in the assembly polls, once again put up an impressive show in the zila parishad and block samiti polls. The Akalis had left all the zila parishad zones and block samitis for the alliance partner, the BJP.
In the 10-member zila parishad, the BJP will have nine members. While one of its candidate was elected unopposed, in the remaining nine zones for which polls were held, the BJP won eight, while the lone zone of Bhoa went to the Congress.
The BJP is set to capture power in all the six blocks of Gharota, Dhar, Sujanpur, Pathankot, Narot Jaimal and Bamial. Elections were held to all 90 samitis, with the BJP winning from 15 seats and the Congress from six, results for which were declared so far.
However, the BJP was leading in around 50 samitis and the Congress was ahead in the remaining. The BJP suffered a setback in Bhoa where it has, so far, lost all the four samiti seats, which are part of the Pathankot block, where, overall, the BJP is ahead.
SAD's impressive show in Bajwa's home district
In Gurdaspur, PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa's home district, the Congress performance was nowhere near its show in the assembly polls when the party captured Qadian, Fatehgarh Churian, Dera Baba Nanak, Batala and Dinanagar seats.
However, the performance by the party was marginally better in Gurdaspur as compared to three other districts of the region.
Of the 23 zila parishad zones, the SAD won two unopposed, while in the remaining, where elections were held, the Congress drew a blank.
The Akalis also won all the 11 block samitis of Gurdaspur, Dinanagar, Dhariwal, Khanuwan, Dorangla, Kalanaur, Batala, Sri Hargobindpur, Qadian, Dera Baba Nanak and Fatehgarh Churian. The SAD had won 36 of the 201 samiti seats without fighting the election.
In the remaining seats, where votes were cast, the Congress emerged victorious on just 15 seats, while two went to the BJP and the rest to the SAD.