Chandigarh’s polity to also feel ripples of AAP victory in Punjab
The Congress, which already lost most seats in MC with the rise of the AAP in Chandigarh, will now be under severe pressure after getting a drubbing from the party in Punjab as well
After AAP’s landmark victory in Punjab, the political landscape in state capital Chandigarh is also set for a makeover.
The AAP tasted success in its maiden foray in the Chandigarh municipal corporation elections last year, coming out as the single-largest party. But with 14 seats in a House of 35, it couldn’t secure the decisive majority.
In the race for the mayor’s post too, the AAP lost out to the second largest party in the House, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has 14 votes (13 councillors and one MP vote). Congress is the third largest party in the House with seven councillors, while one councillor is from the Shiromani Akali Dal.
Now with the AAP taking reins of power in Punjab, its leadership in Chandigarh say it will get more support from BJP and Congress councillors. “Some of these councillors have already contacted me and showed inclination to support the AAP,” said a senior party leader, not wishing to be named.
The Congress, which already lost most seats with the rise of the AAP in Chandigarh, will now be under severe pressure after getting a drubbing from the AAP in Punjab as well.
“There is strong disenchantment within the Congress in the city. It even had to abstain from the mayoral elections over worries about its councillors voting for rival parties’ candidates. Now the party has a tough task on its hand to prevent its rank-and-file deserting it for the AAP,” said a senior Congress leader.
Even before the MC elections, the party had lost several of its leaders to the AAP, many of whom went on to win. Congress’ former city chief Pardeep Chhabra played a key role in the party’s loss after he shifted loyalties to the AAP just a few months before the elections.
Soon after the results, one of Congress’ senior leaders, Devinder Singh Babla, along with his wife and councillor Harpreet Kaur Babla, also jumped ship to the BJP.
“There is no doubt that the Congress party has been in crisis in the city after losing four consecutive elections. Now, with the loss in Punjab, things have worsened for the city unit,” said a Congress leader.
The BJP had out-manoeuvred the AAP in the mayoral elections with one AAP councillor voting for the BJP candidate running for the post of senior deputy mayor. In the election for the mayor’s post, one AAP vote was declared invalid.
The BJP was hoping that a defeat in the Punjab elections will widen cracks within the AAP. On January 8, the BJP had managed to scrape through victory in the mayoral elections merely by one vote, while a big dose of luck helped it win the deputy mayor election that was decided by draw of lots.
“For the next year’s mayoral elections, the BJP leadership wants to be better prepared and will be looking for open support from the AAP. This will now prove more difficult as AAP’s win in Punjab will glue its different factions,” said a BJP leader and councillor.