The fate of 2,252 candidates will be decided on Wednesday as the counting of ballots for the 116 Punjab urban local bodies, including seven high-stake municipal corporations, began amid tight security, electoral officials said.
Amid allegations of booth capturing and clashes, there was 71.39 per cent of the 39,15,280 electorate polling on February 14 in the state.
The counting of votes for the Municipal Corporation in Mohali would take place on Thursday after repolling in two booths owing to reports of irregularities.
The main contest in the urban local bodies is among the Congress, the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
The BJP, which is facing anger over the contentious Central farm laws, is also in the fray. It is contesting the polls for the first time in two decades without the Akalis, the oldest NDA ally that has parted ways from it over the farm laws.
Local issues of towns and cities and the respective wards dominated the campaigning.
The counting began for seven municipal corporations — Abohar, Bathinda, Batala, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot and Moga — and 109 municipal councils and municipal panchayats.
A total of 9,222 candidates were in fray for 2,302 wards.
Political observers say these polls just a year ahead of the Assembly elections are a ‘semi-final’ for the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government that is eyeing to repeat its victory against the backdrop of the farm laws that have generated a wave of anger against the BJP.
On the eve of ballot count, a confident Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed the allegations of the BJP and AAP on rigging of civic polls as a typical case of crying foul in the face of their imminent defeat in the election.
“It’s a panic reaction to their inevitable wipeout in these polls,” said the Chief Minister, adding that the BJP and AAP, as well as SAD, are all set to be completely trounced in these municipal polls, whose results will be the precursor of worse to come for these parties that have totally lost the confidence and trust of the people.
“All these parties have worked together to ruin Punjab, with the black farm laws the latest in the long line of their anti-people and anti-Punjab actions,” Amarinder Singh added.