Congress mayoral candidate Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia campaigning in Panchkula.
Congress mayoral candidate Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia campaigning in Panchkula.

Campaigning ends for MC elections in Panchkula

Though there are six candidates fighting for the mayoral post, the contest is mainly two-cornered — between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party
By Tanbir Dhaliwal, Panchkula
PUBLISHED ON DEC 25, 2020 10:58 PM IST

Campaigning for the civic body polls came to an end in Panchkula on Friday evening, with the two major parties in the fray holding road shows and several meetings to woo voters.

Though there are six candidates fighting for the mayoral post, the contest is mainly two-cornered — between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party.

The voting will take place on Sunday, when about 1.89 lakh people will decide the fate of former mayor and Congress candidate Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia, real estate developer and BJP nominee Kulbhushan Goyal and four other mayoral candidates, besides electing 20 councillors from among 83 in the fray.

The Congress had won the first MC election with a thumping majority in 2013, and Ahluwalia remained the city’s first mayor till 2018.

However, as the BJP came into power in Haryana in 2014 and its leader Gian Chand Gupta got elected from Panchkula, infighting between the mayor and MLA hit the city’s development.

Goyal has been reminding voters about these development pangs during Ahluwalia’s tenure, while asking them to choose a BJP mayor, as the party is in power in the state and at the Centre.

Goyal, who moved to the BJP from INLD just two years ago, is also reminding people of works carried out by Gian Chand Gupta more recently in the city. On the last day of campaigning in various sectors and villages, he also claimed support of various social organisations and independent candidates.

Meanwhile, the Congress has put its faith in Ahluwalia yet again, due to her “dedication” towards the city in the past tenure, even as the decision was disliked by some in the party.

Congress national spokesperson and general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala on Friday addressed a rally at Khatauli village and said Ahluwalia had worked hard as the mayor for Panchkula’s development. Earlier in the day, some social organisations also extended their support to Ahluwalia.

BJP mayoral candidate Kulbhushan Goyal campaigning in Panchkula.
BJP mayoral candidate Kulbhushan Goyal campaigning in Panchkula.

Who campaigned, issues they took up

The BJP was quite proactive when it came to starting the campaign, holding meetings at booth levels, setting up of the IT and media cell, and even announcing candidates and its manifesto before the Congress.

It fielded its top leaders from the region, including Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Himachal Pradesh counterpart Jai Ram Thakur, to campaign for the candidates.

Khattar touched upon the ongoing farmers’ protest, calling it a “tamaasha” and putting his faith in the “intelligent people” of Panchkula to understand the issue and vote for the BJP. Other leaders who campaigned included Captain Abhimanyu, Om Parkash Dhankar and Vinod Tawde.

The Congress, on the other hand, roped in party’s state chief Kumari Selja and former deputy chief minister Chander Mohan to head the campaign in the city. The main focus were rural voters, who were urged to vote for change. The burning issue of new agricultural laws was raised daily.

The party targeted the BJP, raising questions on delayed projects, which were started in 2017 and are still incomplete. Its manifesto carried a list of such projects, included animal shelter and dumping ground.

The two things that remained common between the two parties during the campaign was that both sought votes in the name of development and both gave the go-by to Covid-19 safety norms.

1,400 cops to keep vigil

There are 275 polling booths in 20 wards, of which 98 are hypersensitive and 30 are sensitive.

As many as 1,400 police personnel and 23 patrolling teams have been deployed to ensure peaceful polling.

There will be barricading at 20 places, and no one is allowed to stand within 100 metres of polling booths.

On Saturday, the election eve, the road from Rally Chowk to Sector 12A and the road leading towards women’s college, Sector 14, will remain closed from 9am to 6pm.

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