Clinching a convincing victory, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) combine bagged 27 of the 50 wards in the municipal corporation elections, the results for which were declared on Thursday.
The Congress’s hope to wrest control of the first-ever corporation were washed away as it managed to win only 17 seats, even as party’s district president Sunder Sham Arora asserted that all was not over. Independents claimed six wards.
Even as the final tally of the BJP and Congress remained the same but with SAD by its side the former is in a comfortable position to install its mayor. The BJP won 17 of the 33 wards it contested on its symbol while SAD won 10 of the 17 seats.
The women candidates also made a mark in the elections and won from 18 wards and 11 of them are first-time councillors.
Results started trickling in soon after the counting started at local government college at 10am. The Congress started trailing from the very first round. Former councillor Ashok Kumar of the BJP won from ward 46 with maximum margin of 1,070 votes. Neeti Singh Talwar, wife of Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna's political secretary Sanjiv Talwar won with a margin of 1,009 votes from ward 4. Other prominent winners include former municipal council president and district BJP president Shiv Sood, market committee chairman Avtar Singh Johal and journalist Nipun Sharma. Siblings Kavita Parmar and Savita Sood won from ward 33 and 39 respectively on BJP symbol. For Kavita, it is second victory in a row in civic body elections.
A number of former councillors made it to the new civic body, but about a dozen lost the ground to new comers. Former councillors Sushma Setia, Madan Lal Gandhi, Karamvir Bali, Krishna Saini, Swatantar Kainth, Ajit Singh Lucky, Ranjit Singh, Sukhwinder Kaur, Manjit Kaur, Raj Kumar Thapar, Ram Lubhaya, Amarjit Raman and Taranjit Kaur Sethi licked the dust. Sudarshan Dhir of Congress won with thinnest margin of 12 votes from ward 37. Independent Reena won by a margin of 15 votes from ward 17 and SAD's Santokh Singh won by 16 votes from ward 28.
The Congress lost a number of seats to internal politics. Vikram Mehta, for example, who was denied ticket under pressure from a certain faction, managed to romp home with support of Corruption free Hoshiarpur Vikas Manch from ward 5. BJP's official candidates Ranjit Singh and Ajit Singh Lucky in ward 3 and 14 lost to rebels Ramesh Kumar Mechhi and Balwinder Kumar, respectively.
“The results are below our expectations. Defeat of some of the former councillors is particularly surprising but then there were so many Independents in the fray who made the fight tough. In several wards, we lost by very thin margin,” said local MLA and district Congress committee president Sunder Sham Arora.
A jubilant BJP leader Tikshan Sud, who managed the show from delimitation of wards to picking the candidates, termed the results "very encouraging". “People voted in favour of the government's policies. Moreover, it is the victory of our dedicated party workers,” he said.
Political parties had put in all their weight in these elections which are perceived to be an indicator of their popularity among the masses. The Congress had made corruption a major issue and had hoped to ride on anti-incumbency, but results indicate that kinship and other factors also played a decisive role.
The candidates celebrated their victory by taking out processions or paying obeisance at religious places. Sub-divisional magistrate and MC commissioner Anand Sagar Sharma handed over victory certificates to the winners.
Hoshiarpur MC results: 50/50