Close contest between Congress and SAD-BJP in Amritsar MC poll
Though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also in the fray, it has failed to make the contest triangular, even as it is the main opposition party in the Punjab assembly.punjab Updated: Dec 11, 2017 12:36 IST
The ruling Congress in Punjab is facing a tough challenge from the opposition SAD-BJP alliance in Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) elections, to be held on December 17.
Though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also in the fray, it has failed to make the contest triangular, even as it is the main opposition party in the Punjab assembly. AAP has not even fielded candidates in all the 85 wards.
In the 2012 civic polls, the MC had a total 65 of wards. The SAD-BJP combine had captured the corporation bagging 48 wards, with both partners winning 24 seats each. Congress could win only four seats then.
CHALLENGES BEFORE CONG
Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been the three-time Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar, has succeeded in getting the party ticket allotted to his loyal candidates, including those who came along with him from the BJP to the Congress.
In the process, some old Congress leaders were deprived of the party ticket. Such leaders include Dinesh Bassi, who was also a ticket-seeker during assembly elections from Amritsar (east) constituency, now represented by Sidhu.
Former senior deputy mayor Avtar Singh Truckanwala is a prominent face among party rebels, who is contesting the polls as an independent candidate.
However, senior party leaders are reportedly making efforts to pacify them.
Apart from this, “non-performance” of the ruling party in the city during the past 10 months is also a major challenge for it.
The Congress government has so far failed to resolve some burning issues of the city. The failure to shift the garbage dump away from the habitation, under-utilised Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project, pending infrastructure projects, uncontrolled traffic and littering are the major issues here.
SAD VERSUS BJP
Though leaders of the SAD and the BJP have agreed to contest the polls on 35 and 50 seats respectively, candidates of the alliance partners are also facing rebellion.
As per the agreement, the SAD gave ward number 70 to the BJP. However, opposing the agreement, SAD’s Pawan Khajuria has declared himself a candidate against BJP’s Hira Lal Digpal. Notably, he has been allotted election symbol that was allotted to other SAD candidates.
On the other hand, former deputy mayor Avinash Jolly, who is affiliated to the SAD and has been a councillor since 1997, has also revolted against his party’s move to give the seat (ward 54) to the BJP. He is contesting the polls as an independent candidate against the BJP’s Vikas Mishra.
THE AAP FACTOR
Of the total 85 seats, the AAP could field its candidates on 63 seats only. In rest of the seats, it has decided to contest the elections in alliance with communist parties — CPI and CPI (M) — and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In this scenario, prospects of AAP nominees in civic elections appear bleak.
Normally, the ruling party emerges a clear favourite in civic elections, but the scenario is Amritsar is different this time. It seems a close fight between the Congress and the SAD-BJP.