Chandigarh mayor election: High drama after BJP wins as AAP alleges vote tampering

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Chandigarh : High drama was witnessed in the Chandigarh Mayoral poll results after the presiding officer declared eight votes of Congress and AAP councillors invalid, resulting in the victory of the BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar in the mayoral elections.

Chaos erupted on Tuesday with the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress alleging electoral “malpractices” by the BJP. On the other hand, the BJP said that the “victory” is yet another jolt for the INDIA bloc.

AAP termed the poll as “unconstitutional and illegal” and an act of “deshdroh” (treason).

BJP’s Manoj Sonkar defeated AAP-Congress candidate Kuldeep Singh. He received 16 votes, while Singh got 12 votes. Eight votes were declared invalid.

Meanwhile, the AAP and Congress filed a petition in the Punjab-Haryana High Court highlighting concerns over the integrity of the recently conducted mayoral elections in Chandigarh. The court will hear the matter on January 31.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the BJP over the contentious Chandigarh mayoral election results as he drew a parallel between Tuesday’s events and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse on this day 76 years back.

“It is beyond imagination what the BJP, which can kill democracy in front of the whole world in the mayoral elections, will do to remain in power in Delhi,” Rahul posted on X.

“Years ago, on this day, Godse had assassinated Gandhiji and today Godsewadis sacrificed his ideals and constitutional values,” he added.

Meanwhile, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said that there was brazen misuse of electoral machinery at the behest of the BJP in the Chandigarh Mayoral polls.

“The brazen misuse of electoral machinery at the behest of BJP in the Chandigarh Mayoral polls will further erode the confidence of people in free and fair elections. As I said yesterday, 2024 is the last chance for us to save Democracy. If we do not come together, to save it from BJP, our future generations shall repent. On Gandhi ji’s #MartyrsDay, Godse worshipper BJP has murdered Democracy and all ethos of Constitution,” Kharge posted on X.

AAP Chandigarh Mayor candidate Kuldeep Kumar was in tears after the result was declared. He said, “Democracy has been murdered.”

AAP leader Raghav Chadha questioned the Chandigarh mayoral poll process and referred to the poll process as “unconstitutional and illegal” and an act of “deshdroh” (treason). He accused the BJP of “orchestrating” it after sensing its defeat in the election.

“Victory of our alliance was certain, but sensing imminent defeat, the BJP hatched conspiracies. First, the presiding officer, who was to conduct polls on January 18, was made to fall ill. Thereafter an attempt was made to buy councillors of the AAP. When BJP’s ‘operation lotus’ failed, then they did fraud (in the mayoral polls),” said Chadha.

“BJP’s presiding officer did not allow any election agent of any party to come forward during the counting of votes. Whenever counting takes place, election agents of parties are allowed to come. Then after the BJP’s presiding officer inked the ballot paper using his pen and then declared them invalid during the counting of votes,” he added further.

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal alleged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) indulged in “hooliganism” during the Chandigarh mayoral elections and called the polls a “black day for democracy.”

Addressing a press conference, Delhi CM voiced concerns about the integrity of the democratic process and said the entire country saw what happened in the Chandigarh mayoral polls.

“Gandhiji was assassinated on this date and after 76 years, they (BJP) have murdered the democracy… It is a black day for democracy. They did hooliganism openly and it is captured on camera. The whole country is seeing how they stole votes… Anyone can win or lose elections, the country should not lose… The issue is that they have won the Chandigarh Mayoral elections with open fraud,” Kejriwal said.

Congress LOP Pratap Singh Bajwa said that if BJP wins in 2024, there will be no constitution or elections in the country.

“If 8 votes are declared invalid of a party that has 20 votes, it would have been better to declare the winner unopposed,” he added.

Moreover, Punjab CM and AAP leader Bhagwant Mann said that today’s day will be written and remembered as a ‘black day’ in the democracy of our country.

“Today will be written and remembered as a ‘black day’ in the democracy of our country. Unfortunately, this is the same month when we celebrate Republic Day. Today, the Constitution has been shredded. The manner in which Chandigarh mayor election was ‘looted’ by the BJP before the media, in front of the cameras. They did this in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, and northeastern states before this. So, this is their old habit,” he added.

Mann further said that Democracy was ‘looted’ today adding that Anil Masih is the Head of the BJP Minority Wing.

“All 16 on their side know how to vote and 8 on our side don’t even know to vote!…Democracy was ‘looted’ today…Anil Masih is the Head of the BJP Minority Wing. They made their officer bearer the presiding officer. On 18th January he said that he had a problem in his spine so he couldn’t come (for election). Today, I came to know that he was absolutely right. Actually, he didn’t even have a spine. He is spineless. If he had a spine, he would have counted (the votes) properly,” he added.

The declaration of these results triggered immediate protests from AAP and Congress councillors, who raised serious allegations of foul play against the BJP.

BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla alleged that AAP and Congress betrayed each other in their first test and now they will blame the election process as usual.

“Again INDI alliance gets a jolt and jhatka BJP’s mayoral candidate Manoj Sonkar won the Chandigarh mayor election by securing 16 votes. Congress and AAP mayor candidate Kuldeep Singh got 12 votes. It seems AAP and Congress betrayed each other in their first test… now they will blame the election process as usual but the fact is AAP and Congress hate each other. We know how they have been saying “Ek Thi Congress” etc. One more jolt for Indi after Mamata didi and Nitish Babu now this loss!!” Poonawalla posted on X.

Moreover, BJP National General Secretary Vinod Tawde said that some counsellors invalidated their votes.

“Chandigarh mayor, senior deputy mayor and deputy major elections were held today…When Congress and AAP came together for the mayoral elections, there was a lot of craze for the INDIA alliance. After a few days, CM Bhagwant Mann announced that there would be no INDIA alliance in Punjab and AAP would contest the elections alone…If the CM would insult Congress like this, their reaction is also natural…When days ago Nitish Kumar left the INDIA alliance, everyone’s morale was shattered and this is not an alliance…Some counsellors invalidated their votes,” Tawde said.

BJP MP Parvesh Verma said “We have asked the Commissioner to make a special investigation team and ask their (AAP) people who tried to buy them, how they were contacted. Our demand is that the whole truth should be out.”

Presiding Officer of Chandigarh Mayor election Anil Masih reacted to the vote counting of the Chandigarh Mayoral elections 2024 and said that there were around 11 ballot papers with which they (AAP) had a problem.

“There were around 11 ballot papers with which they (AAP) had a problem. I honoured their wish and issued new ballot papers. I declared the result after that. BJP won 16 votes, AAP won 12 votes and he rest of the 8 votes were invalid. After I declared the result the Opposition started disrupting the process and hijacked the ballot papers. AAP and Congress conspired to derail the election process,” he said.

After BJP’s Manoj won the Chandigarh mayor election, a ruckus broke out in the House. Congress and AAP councillors accused the BJP of cheating and not following the due electoral process

The polls were conducted today after the presiding officer fell ill on the initial date, January 8 of holding the polls.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 24, 2024, announced the decision to hold the Chandigarh Mayoral Elections on January 30 and also vested the responsibility for security in the Chandigarh Police.

 

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