Municipal polls: Behind SAD ‘drama’, a bid to steal AAP’s thunder
As main opposition, AAP seeks to stay in the game, accuses govt of ‘throttling democracy’ and the SAD for causing inconvenience to public.punjab Updated: Dec 10, 2017 10:58 IST
The aggressive posturing by the SAD-BJP combine ahead of the Punjab municipal elections is not just to put the ruling Congress on the defensive but also to emerge as the main rival to it. This is to further push back the main opposition party in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which remains a reluctant player in the civic polls, letting the Akalis steal a march over it.
Unlike the SAD-BJP, the AAP has no municipal corporations or councils to defend, and also lacks the experience and grit of the old rivals to not concede any ground to each other.
Moreover, it has little at stake in Majha and Doaba belts, which include Amritsar and Jalandhar municipal corporations, as it won no seats here during the February polls. The party’s Delhi leadership has left it to the state leaders to plan and execute, who, in turn, have passed the baton on to the local leaders by forming nine-member panels.
The AAP is contesting the polls to the three corporations of Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar, and some of the 32 nagar councils and panchayats, on the party symbol. In the rest, it has given candidates the “leeway” to contest as independents.
Punjab AAP co-president Aman Arora contends they knew the Congress would try to stonewall or reject nominations of those contesting on the AAP symbol, broom.
“Our fears have come true. The Congress leaders tried to prevent our candidates from filing nominations or their papers were rejected. We have lodged complaints with the state election commission and district administration. But we are not trying to stage a drama like the SAD-BJP by causing inconvenience to the public,” Arora said.
But, in the Congress-Akalis slugfest, AAP is now trying to stay in the game.
It released a manifesto for Amritsar on Saturday and will follow it up with one for Jalandhar, and then Patiala. In the nagar councils and panchayats where it is not contesting on the symbol, it is supporting “good candidates” who are contesting as independents.
Taking the high moral ground, the party is bashing both the Congress and the Akalis for clashes. Punjab AAP chief Bhagwant Mann took a dig at Akali leaders on Saturday by lauding the public for taking them on for blocking roads.
It is also using social media to drive its point home. In a Facebook post, AAP MLA Kanwar Sandhu dubbed the conduct of the MC polls as “murder and mockery of democracy”. Accusing the Congress of preventing candidates of the SAD and AAP from filing nominations or rejecting them, he said, “It exposes the Congress pretence of following a democratic system. Such highhandedness results in people taking the law in their hands. Sadly, when democracy is being throttled, the CM is busy in self-aggrandisement at the Military Literature Festival.”
All seats won ‘unopposed’, Cong MLA pats own back in front-page ads
As the Akalis cry foul over its candidates not being allowed to file nomination papers for the Baghapurana nagar panchayat elections, the local Congress MLA Darshan Singh Brar posted congratulatory messages to the party’s national and state leaders in front-page advertisements in some newspapers on Saturday.
The ad, issued by the Congress unit of Baghapurana in Moga district, says, “Under the able leadership of MLA Darshan Singh Brar, the party had a landslide victory for which we extend heartiest congratulations to all party leaders and workers.”
The SAD and Congress activists had clashed at Baghapurana on the last day of filing nomination papers on December 6. The Akalis had alleged that the authorities did not provide no-dues certificates to its candidates on time and they were later not allowed to enter the premises of the sub-divisional magistrate’s (SDM) office to file their nominations. The lone SAD candidate, Kamaljit Kaur, too had withdrawn her papers on Friday, in protest. Nominations of four other candidates were rejected. All the 15 Congress nominees were elected “unopposed” on Friday.