CHANDIGARH: Punjab’s ruling BJP and Akali Dal combine have scored a landslide win in municipal elections in capital Chandigarh, just ahead of crucial state assembly polls. The allies are set to win 20 of the 26 seats, while the Congress will have to settle for just three. The BJP leads the board with 17 seats with its ally winning one. In the outgoing house, the BJP-Akali Dal hold 12 seats, the Congress 11 and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party two. Today’s win is a big boost for the ruling combine, which is battling an anti-incumbency factor in the assembly elections after having ruled for 10 straight years. In the assembly elections it takes on not just traditional rival Congress but also Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, which hopes to replicate in Punjab its stupendous success in the Delhi elections last year.
The BJP, which has launched massive celebrations in Chandigarh even as results roll in, will especially see in its victory another thumbs up for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ban on 500 and 1,000-rupee notes aimed at eliminating corruption and black or undeclared money. The opposition, led by the Congress, has declared war on the government over the notes ban, alleging that the massive cash crunch that has followed punishes the poor rather than the corrupt.
Kirron Kher, BJP MP from Chandigarh, said, “Demonetisation has not affected the polls, there were problems but our people are very understanding.” The BJP has, however, held that people support the move against corruption despite the hardships they have had to face as they recognise that it is “short-term” inconvenience for “long-term gain”. The BJP recently made significant gains in civic elections in Maharashtra and Gujarat and credited those successes to the PM Modi’s battle against corruption with the notes ban.