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Setback for INDI alliance; BJP wins Chandigarh mayoral elections

In a major setback to INDI allies Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party has won the Chandigarh mayoral elections with 16 votes to its mayoral candidate Manoj Sonkar.

Setback for INDI alliance; BJP wins Chandigarh mayoral elections
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First Published Jan 30, 2024, 1:19 PM IST

In a major setback to the INDI allies Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party has won the Chandigarh mayoral elections with 16 votes to its mayoral candidate Manoj Sonkar. He secured victory against Kuldeep Kumar from the Aam Aadmi Party. The BJP garnered 16 votes, while the India Alliance received 12 votes. However, 8 votes were invalidated. Interestingly, the cancelled votes belonged to the INDI alliance parties.

The AAP and Congress are raising allegations against the presiding officer, claiming that the agent was not permitted to participate in the counting process. They assert that the presiding officer made unauthorized markings with a pen, leading to the subsequent cancellation of votes. AAP and Congress councillors claimed collusion between the BJP and the presiding officer to manipulate the votes, particularly highlighting the denial of access to the agent of the India Bloc mayoral candidate during the ballot box opening.

This incident marks the first confrontation between the NDA and INDIA bloc ahead of the general elections. Despite tight security measures, including three-tier barricades and the deployment of 800 soldiers, the elections at the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation faced controversy. Originally scheduled for January 18 and later postponed to February 6 due to the illness of Presiding Officer Anil Masih, the rescheduled elections were met with opposition from Congress and AAP councillors.

In the 35-member Municipal Corporation House, the AAP-Congress alliance, with 20 votes, posed a significant challenge to BJP's 15 votes. The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in its January 24 order, directed the Chandigarh administration to conduct the mayoral elections to ensure free and fair proceedings. The AAP-Congress alliance strategically nominated candidates, aiming to break the eight-year rule of the BJP. The election process for the Mayor's post, reserved for the Scheduled Caste category, involves a secret ballot.

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