Chandigarh: The ruling BJP-JJP alliance in Haryana Wednesday suffered major upsets in the municipal elections held in three major cities and four towns.
The alliance lost the Jat-dominated Sonepat Municipal Corporation where the Congress won the coveted mayoral post.
Apart from Sonepat, where the farmer protests are underway, the BJP-JJP also lost the mayoral seat at Ambala to the Jan Chetna Party of former Congress leader and union minister Venod Sharma.
Panchkula proved to be the only saving grace, where the ruling combine won the mayoral seat but by a thin margin of over 2,000 votes.
Voting took place Sunday. Over 4.65 lakh of the total 7.78 lakh voters had cast their vote.
Besides the three major municipal corporations in the cities, elections were also held for the president and members of the Rewari Municipal Council and the municipal committees of Dharuhera in Rewari, Uklana in Hisar and Sampla in Rohtak.
This is the first time that direct elections to the post of the mayors and the presidents on these seats were held.
While there was a direct contest between the BJP-JJP alliance and the Congress, which fought on their symbols in all the corporations and some towns, Independents too have made their mark in these elections.
At the 20-seat Sonepat Municipal Corporation, the Congress won nine seats, the BJP on 10 and one seat was won by an Independent. Nikhil Madaan of the Congress is the new mayor; he defeated BJP’s Lalit Batra by a margin of over 13,800 votes.
Sonepat is Jat-dominated and the community has been backing the farmer protests.
Of the 20 seats at Ambala, the Jan Chetna Party won seven seats, the BJP won on eight and the Congress secured two seats. The Democratic Front took two seats.
Shakti Rani Sharma of the Jan Chetna Party defeated BJP’s Vandana Sharma to take the mayoral seat. Sharma is the wife of Venod Sharma, who founded the party in August 2014 ahead of the assembly elections in Haryana. Both had contested the assembly polls and had lost.
The impact of the farmers’ agitation was visible in Ambala, which has a seizable Sikh population.
At Panchkula, the BJP-JJP candidate Kulbhushan Goyal took the mayoral post. In the 20-seat corporation, the BJP won 12 seats while the Congress bagged six. Two seats were won by Independent candidates.
Councils and committees
In the 31-member council at Rewari, the BJP won 10 seats while the rest were won by Independent candidates. BJP’s Poonam Yadav has been elected president here.
At the Uklana municipal committee, the chairman post was won by Independent Sushil Sahu. Independents won on all 13 wards.
At Sampla in Rohtak, Independent candidate Puja won the chairman seat. Independents also won on all the 15 wards of the committee. Most of the winning Independent candidates were, however, supported by the Congress.
In the Dharuhera municipal committee, Independent candidate Kanwar Singh won the battle for the president’s post.
JJP loses its sheen
The Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) led by deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala was among the bigger losers of the day.
The JJP had contested on four seats in Panchkula and won on two of them. It lost all the three seats it contested in Ambala and all five in Sonepat.
The party losing in Sonepat is significant as the JJP is considered a Jat-centric outfit. The JJP, however, has been backing the BJP over the three central farm laws.
Although the JJP was not given any mayoral post in its division of seats with the BJP for these elections, it fielded candidates for the president post at Dharuhera and Uklana. Both lost.