Chandigarh: Fighting against odds, the Congress stunned the BJP when its candidate Poonam Sharma was elected mayor of Chandigarh in a prestigious contest on Tuesday. The icing on the Congress cake was the victory of the party’s Gurbax Rawat for the seat of deputy mayor, which she snatched from the BJP.
The BJP had to be content with retaining the post of senior deputy mayor, which was won by its candidate Rajesh Gupta alias Bittu.
The results shocked the BJP camp into silence and left local MP Kirron Kher in tears. She had backed Heera Negi, the party candidate for mayor, despite opposition from party president Sanjay Tandon, who favoured Asha Jaswal.
On the other hand, there was jubilation in the Congress. Immediately after Sharma was declared elected, enthusiastic Congress councillors raised slogans hailing former MP Pawan Kumar Bansal and city party president B B Bahl.
In the run-up to the election, the BJP looked favourite as it had 15 councillors, and needed just three more votes for victory from a general house which has 35 members.
By contrast, the Congress, weakened by recent defections, was left with only nine councillors and had the tall task of mobilising nine additional votes for the victory of its candidates.
Over the last few days, both sides had tried to win over as many of the nine nominated councillors as possible.
As it turned out, the BJP’s Heera Negi got exactly 15 votes — the strength of the BJP and its allies — while her rival Poonam Sharma got 17 and emerged the winner. One vote was invalid and two nominated councillors — Dr Amrit Tiwari and Sat Paul Bansal — did not turn up.
With this, the Congress has won the mayor’s election for the eighth time in succession since 2008. Sharma succeeds party colleague H C Kalyan.
The day began on a bad note for the BJP. Before the polling began, an angry Jannat Jahan, BSP leader, declared her party’s support for the Congress, alleging that “goons of Harmohan Dhawan (BJP leader)’’ had called her husband on Monday night and threatened him with dire consequences if the two BSP councillors did not vote for the BJP.
Her allegation, it seems, also had an influence on nominated councillors, most of whom ended up voting against the BJP, as reflected in the result.
In the deputy mayor’s election, the Congress’s Gurbax Rawat polled 16 votes against 15 to the BJP’s Davesh Moudgil, who was the incumbent. Two votes were declared invalid.
The only grace for the BJP was the victory of Rajesh Gupta alias Bittu over the Congress’s Satish Kumar Kainth for the post of senior deputy mayor. While Gupta polled 17 votes, Kainth got 15 and one vote was declared invalid. Gupta succeeds Heera Negi.
Bansal attributed the Congress victory to the good work done by party mayors in the past, but said “the most important’’ factor was the continued…