Semi-finals for assembly, Punjab Civic Polls set for quadrangular contest

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The Punjab Municipal polls on February 14 are all set to witness “quadrangular” contests among political parties amid the ongoing farmers’ agitation and are being seen as a semi-final for the Punjab assembly polls in 2022.

The BJP, Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are the main political parties in the fray.

The BJP, which is contesting alone for the first time after SAD walked away from NDA last year opposing the new farm laws, alleged that their candidates are not being allowed to campaign by the Congress government in the state.

BJP Punjab chief Ashwani Sharma told IANS, “The Chief Minister is misusing government machinery to stop BJP candidates from campaigning. Our candidates are not being allowed to campaign. In some places, BJP candidates are not allowed to step out from the houses. It has been done on the behest of the Punjab Government. On many occasions, we are not allowed to hold public meetings.”

The BJP and the SAD alleged that nominations of their candidates were rejected on the behest of the Congress government in the state.

SAD in a tweet said that a four-member party delegation met Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore on Tuesday and submitted a detailed memorandum alleging violence and electoral malpractices and the failure of State Election Commission (SEC) in civic elections in the state.

Earlier, the SAD demanded that municipal polls be annulled at places where nomination papers of opposition candidates were rejected en masse, even after the end of the scrutiny period.

BJP’s Sharma also claimed that at many places nomination of party candidates were cancelled at the behest of the CM.

“The Chief Minister is doing everything to stop the opposition from contesting municipal polls from rejection of nomination papers to turning blind eye to violence by Congress workers,” he said.

The AAP, the main opposition party in Punjab assembly, is also fighting the civic body polls with full strength.

AAP MLA from Delhi and Punjab unit co-incharge, Raghav Chadha is intensely campaigning for party candidates and has held several road shows in several parts of the state.On Monday, Chadha had held roadshows in Hoshiarpur, Dasua and Kapurthala districts.

After the roadshows, Chadha tweeted, “Campaigned in Punjab’s Doaba region today, an area which was previously considered to be weak for AAP. With the electrifying response in roadshows of Hoshiarpur, Dasua and Kapurthala, one can safely conclude that the tide has turned.”

On Tuesday the AAP leader held a roadshow in Pathankot district of the state.

The AAP has alleged that the local bodies in Punjab have become synonymous with corruption and undue political interference has hampered developmental activities.

Parties also see polls results as public opinion on ongoing farmers’ agitation at the Capital’s borders in which farmers from the state are actively participating.

The AAP government in the national capital has extended support to the farmers, mainly from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, protesting at Delhi’s borders demanding to repeal the new farm law.

BJP’s Sharma said that opposition parties are creating confusion among people and results will silence them.

“The Central government has made new farm laws for the benefits of farmers. If there are some doubts in their (farmers) mind, the government is ready to clear it. But some people with vested interests are misleading farmers,” Sharma said.

Polling for eight municipal corporations and 109 municipal councils and nagar panchayats in Punjab will be held on February 14 and counting of votes will take place on February 17.

(Shashi Bhushan can be contacted at shashi.b@ians.in)

–IANS

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