Chandigarh: Amid farmers' protest, the ruling Congress in Punjab took a major lead in the civic body polls, while the BJP, which was facing anger over the contentious Central farm laws, had a dismal show.
In a clean sweep, the Congress won 49 out of 50 wards in Abohar, while Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) won one. Out of 50 wards in Hoshiarpur, the Congress won 31 wards. The Bharatiya Janata Party won four wards, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) two. However, SAD and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not win any ward.
In Moga, the Congress won 20 out of the 50 wards, while SAD was second with 15 wards. Independent candidates won 10 wards, while the AAP and the BJP won four and one wards respectively. In the Bhawanigarh municipal council, the Congress won 13 out of the 15 seats while SAD and Independent won one seat each. The BJP and AAP failed to secure any seats.
The counting of ballots for the 116 Punjab urban local bodies, including seven high-stake municipal corporations, amid tight security is underway, 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 was among the Congress, the opposition AAP and SAD.
The BJP contested the polls for the first time in two decades without the Akalis, the oldest NDA ally that 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.