Congress decimates BJP-SAD in Punjab panchayat polls

The opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) revival efforts in Panchayat polls, ahead of Lok Sabha polls, received a tremendous setback with the ruling Congress Party-backed candidates won all the 13,726 panchayats for which elections were held last week.

Out of a total of 83,831 panches which had contested the polls on December 30, 46,754 panches (village council members) were said to have been elected unopposed. Elections were held for 13,726 panchayats to also elect sarpanches (village headmen). As many as 1,863 sarpanches were elected unopposed after the end of the withdrawal process of nomination papers.

However, the State Election Commission may take two to three days to give a finaly tally of results. The highest voter turnout was witnessed in the Bhatinda and Fazilka districts (86 per cent each), followed by Mohali (84 per cent) Pathankot (82 per cent), Patiala and Sangrur (81 per cent), Moga (78 per cent) and Fatehgarh Sahib (77.2 per cent).

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh congratulated the winning candidates. “Congratulations to the winners of #PunjabPanchayatPolls. A strong assertion of democracy at the grassroots. I call upon the newly elected Sarpanches and Panchayat members to work out a long-term vision to usher in positive change in their villages,” he said in a tweet.

The results, though, have been disputed by the SAD and the main opposition party in the state assembly, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In the wake of several alleged instances of voter intimidation and booth-capturing by the two parties, the State Election Commission has recommended re-polling in at least eight villages in Gurdaspur, Ludhiana, Patiala and SAS Nagar districts.

An ally of the BJP,  SAD faced setbacks in what were considered as its strongholds, even as the Badal family had campaigned aggressively to court voters in some of the villages in the lead-up to the Dec 30 vote.

The opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) blamed the Congress, alleging a “complete hijacking” of the election by the ruling party.”Congress party is now afraid to face people. They know they have done nothing. That’s why party indulged in large scale violence and rigging in Panchayat elections today. Black day for democracy. Elections hijacked,” SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said in a tweet.

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