Chandigarh mayor resigns ahead of SC hearing, 3 AAP councillors quit to join BJP | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Chandigarh mayor resigns ahead of Supreme Court hearing, 3 AAP councillors quit to join BJP

Feb 19, 2024 09:35 AM IST

Congress and AAP had accused the presiding officer for mayoral elections Anil Masih of defacing ballot papers during mayoral polls.

In a new twist in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, Manoj Sonkar of the Bharatiya Janata Party resigned as Chandigarh mayor on Sunday night, a day before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a plea alleging irregularities in the recently held mayoral polls. This followed the resignations of three Aam Aadmi Party councillors – Punam Devi, Neha Musawat, and Gurcharan Kala – in Chandigarh who had gone incommunicado three days ago and joined the BJP on Sunday night, citing “unhappiness” with the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.

Manoj Sonkar after the Chandigarh mayoral elections. (HT file photo)
Manoj Sonkar after the Chandigarh mayoral elections. (HT file photo)

Manoj Sonkar submitted his resignation to the municipal commissioner, Chandigarh BJP president Jatinder Pal Malhotra said.

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“Mayor (Manoj Sonkar) has resigned from his post today. The matter of mayoral polls is subjudice; the Supreme Court will decide on it tomorrow,” Malhotra said.

This came after the Congress and AAP had accused the presiding officer for mayoral elections Anil Masih of defacing ballot papers. A video of Masih, purportedly tampering with eight votes during the counting process on January 30 had also gone viral on social media - which the top court took a stern view of.

According to Masih, during the counting of votes, Manoj Sonkar got 16 votes, Kuldeep Dhalor of the AAP-Congress alliance bagged 12 votes, while eight of the total 36 votes were declared invalid.

On February 5, the Supreme Court had rapped Masih, observing that it was obvious that he defaced the ballot papers and that he should be prosecuted, adding that his action amounted to "murder and mockery" of democracy. The court had listed the matter on February 19.

Setback for AAP

“I joined the BJP after getting inspired from the works done by PM Modi…I have left AAP because they are a fake party,” Punam Devi told news agency ANI.

According to Musawat, the AAP made “false promises to them”. “Today after getting inspired by the works of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I have joined BJP,” she said.

With this, the BJP will have a majority of 19 votes in the 36-member house for the mayoral polls, while the AAP-Congress alliance will be left with 17 votes.

(With inputs from agencies)

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