SAD-BJP alliance sweeps municipal polls in Punjab

Amritsar, Jun 11: The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine swept the Municipal Corporation polls in Punjab on Sunday, drubbing the opposition Congress in the first trial of strength after the state assembly election in January this year.

The SAD-BJP candidates romped home in most of the wards in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Patiala Municipal bodies, State Election Commission Secretary ML Sharma said.

The alliance bagged 48 wards in the Amritsar Municipal Corporation, 38 in Patiala, 35 in Jalandhar and over 40 in Ludhiana, he said.

A ward each went in favour of the People's Party of Punjab and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Jalandhar, Sharma said.

In Ludhiana, Independents pocketed 14 wards, he said adding the rest of the wards in four Corporations were bagged by the Congress.

The SAD-BJP combine also claimed to have notched up impressive wins in 26 Nagar Panchayats and three Municipal Councils - Jagraon, Machiwara and Sanehwal - which went to the polls on June seven.

Hailing the victory, SAD patriarch and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said this had once again demonstrated people's full faith and confidence in policies and programmes of the coalition government.

"This is a historic and forceful mandate in favour of pro-people and development-oriented policies of the SAD-BJP government," he said in a statement.

"The spectacular poll results are a triumph of clean, transparent and good governance of the alliance," Mr Badal said.

Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh alleged booth capturing by the ruling combine in all the Municipal wards in Patiala and said this was a "murder of democracy".

He alleged several Congress workers were injured in the attacks by "Akali goons" and many of them were arrested.

Amarinder said the SAD-BJP combine had reduced the Municipal Corporation elections in the state to a farce.

He accused Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of using foul means in the elections.

He alleged masked youths with support from the police and local Akali leaders freely roamed in Patiala city and elsewhere capturing booths and preventing people from voting.

He alleged they did not even spare mediapersons and two photo-journalists were injured in the violence.

The PCC chief alleged all cameras, installed at the behest of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, were smashed and damaged to ensure that nothing was recorded.

The polls, seen as the first trial of strength between the SAD and the Congress after the assembly poll, were held for 50 wards in Patiala, 75 in Ludhiana, 58 in Jalandhar and 64 in Amritsar.

Meanwhile, a youth was shot dead as stray violence marred the civic body polls which witnessed a high voter turnout of nearly 75 per cent.

Supporters of SAD and rebel Congress candidates clashed at Bazigar Colony in Ludhiana leaving 38-year-old Banti Bajwa dead, police said. He was shot dead in the clash which erupted between supporters of SAD nominee Bajinder Singh and rebel Congress candidate Gurdeep Singh due to some old rivalry, they said. The father of the victim alleged that SAD supporters fired shots at his son from point blank range.

Stones were hurled allegedly by some SAD supporters at the vehicle of Amarinder Singh, police said. The Congress leader escaped unhurt, they said.


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