In the first battle between BJP and INDIA bloc, Manoj Sonkar of BJP won the Chandigarh mayor elections. He defeated the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Kuldeep Singh. This will boost the morale of BJP which is low-key dot be pitted against united opposition in the next Lok Sabha elections due in few months.
The AAP-Congress alliance strategically nominated candidates for various positions. Singh, representing the AAP, contested for the mayoral post, while the Congress fielded candidates for senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor.
BJP councillor Manoj Sonkar amassed 16 votes outstaging Kuldeep Singh, the combined nominee of the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Singh got 12 votes while 8 votes were found invalid.
The BJP, with 14 councillors, managed to outpace AAP, which had 13 councillors, and the Congress with seven.
AAP's Raghav Chadha and Congress's Pawan Bansal claimed that presiding officer Anil Masih is a member of BJP's minority wing and he declared eight of the 20 AAP-Congress votes invalid after claiming that their ballots had ink marking outside the stipulated area. They also alleged counting agents of parties were not allowed and they were not shown the ballots which the presiding officer declared invalid.
Both leaders also demanded action against Masih and others involved in the incident. They alleged the election was “rigged” and the Punjab High Court should initiate a probe into the incident.
As the results for Chandigarh Mayor elections were announced, AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the BJP of “cheating” and voiced his dissatisfaction with the electoral process.
“If these people can stoop to this level in a mayoral poll, they can go to any extent in the national elections,” Kejriwal posted on X. “This is very worrying.”
Manoj Sonkar, 39, has studied up to Class 7. He is the owner of a liquor business. His victory marks a critical juncture in the city's governance.
The election bears broader political implications, viewed as a preliminary contest between the BJP and the emergent INDIA bloc before the forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections 2024.
The Chandigarh mayoral elections, thus, not only decided the city's administrative head but also set the stage for more extensive political battles ahead.