With a strict check on cross-voting this time and putting up a united face, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was able to clinch the victory in the mayoral polls after a gap of 15 years on Friday. Continuous intervention of the state as well as Central leadership and wooing of the nominated councillors also helped the party prove its mettle.
The desperation of outgoing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) local unit president Sanjay Tandon to win the elections was writ large with the central leaders issuing referendum to local councillors to work as a team. Even the sparring leaders - MP Kirron Kher, senior BJP leaders Satya Pal Jain and Tandon- also worked above the groupism, and led the party to the victory.
The hectic lobbying and intense involvement of senior leaders started at least two months before the polls. At first, to evade cross-voting, the favourites among the two camps — Sanjay Tandon group and Satya Pal Jain group — were cherry picked for the mayor and senior deputy mayor’s posts. Tandon’s Friday man Arun Sood and Jain’s close aid were chosen as front runners, to which the MP also did not show any resistance.
During the course of several talks, the BJP councillors were clearly told that the polls this time could make or break the party’s image, and that they should keep aside their personal interests; after all, it was a do-ordie situation for the BJP, which was losing the polls for the past four consecutive years despite having the numbers.
Several Central as well as state leaders like Union minister JP Nadda held several talks with BJP councillors, and exhorted them to avoid cross-voting. Party local affairs in-charge Prabhat Jha also held several one-on-one interactions. To build up pressure, several leaders including Punjab BJP chief Kamal Sharma, chief minister Badal’s political adviser Tikshan Sud and Punjab minister for local bodies Anil Joshi were also roped in. Meanwhile, while setting their house in order, the BJP also focused on winning over the nominated councillors. In past one month, the nominated were invited over tea by UT administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki. If this was not enough, on the election eve, the nominated ones along with the BJP councillors were also invited for a hi-level tea party with Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. The BJP also influenced its councillors by arranging a meeting with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.