Chandigarh MC polls: curtains on the countryside, setting for a three-cornered contest
The thrilling campaign for the Chandigarh 2021 municipal elections ended on Tuesday, giving way to the 72-hour “period of silence”, which will end at 5:00 p.m. on December 24.
The vote is scheduled for December 24 and the results will be released on December 27. The State Election Commission will complete the electoral process by December 30.
Unlike the previously established bipartisan battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, Chandigarh is expected to witness a three-way contest, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also entering the fray of the 35 neighborhoods.
While the AAP first made its entrance announcing a host of “guarantees”, the BJP closely followed the release of its list of “achievements”.
Congress, which entered campaign mode quite slowly, quickly made up for lost ground as the canvassing window drew to a close.
The last day saw the candidates come out of the “padyatras” and go door to door, although a few also held public rallies.
With no major untoward incidents or serious personal insults, the month-long campaign went smoothly.
But despite the electoral commission putting strict guidelines in place for Covid, most candidates shamelessly flouted security protocols.
Even against the backdrop of increasing Covid cases in the city, political parties have continued to gather large crowds as they go to show force on public health.
The BJP, striving to retain a majority in MC House, has made “development” and its “achievements” over the past six years its main campaigning thrusts.
The big old party, after losing three successive elections to the BJP, based its campaign on anti-nomination factors, pointing out how the Saffron party “failed” the City Beautiful.
Meanwhile, the AAP, after being defeated in the 2019 election in Lok Sabha and contesting its first MC polls in Chandigarh, has centered its campaign around the ‘Delhi model’.
The most brutal attack on the ruling party came on the issue of the city’s brutal fall in the Swachh Survekshan rankings. Both Congress and AAP have targeted the BJP for failing to address the Dadumajra landfill, malfunctioning solid waste treatment plant, and poor door-to-door garbage collection. managed in the city.
In turn, the BJP blamed Congress for the city’s garbage problems, particularly the dysfunctional garbage disposal plant. He also questioned the AAP’s track record in cleaning up Delhi’s rubbish mounds.
General inflation, rising water prices and “high” garbage collection charges were other issues that opposition parties raised prominently.
On the Congress poll promise of “no new taxes,” the BJP countered by stating that “such financial indiscipline on the part of Congress during its multiple terms” has led to MC’s financial problems and the ‘forced certain levies to be increased.
The AAP was attacked over the giveaways it advertised. Both Congress and the BJP rejected them as either unenforceable or insubstantial.
For example, regarding the AAP’s guarantee of a “free supply of water up to 20,000 liters per month”, the parties argued that this only cost about ??40 per city billing cycle. “In Delhi after the free slab, the next slab is ??24 per kilo liter, ”said the leaders of both parties.
After the rally of AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, the attack by Congress and the BJP on the “Delhi model” and “guarantees” became more acute.
Big guns for big push
All three parties have hired “star activists” over the past month.
The AAP campaign started with Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia interacting with the city’s residents and culminated with the Kejriwal public rally in Sector 43.
Punjab party leader and MP Bhagwant Mann, Rajya MP Sabha Sanjay Singh and eight party MPs also campaigned on his behalf.
Featured Congress activists included Kanhaiya Kumar, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Kumari Selja, and Randeep Singh Surjewala. Manpreet Badal, Raj Kumar Verka and Mohinder Singh Kaypee were prominent faces of the Punjab party who pushed their campaign in the city.
Alka Lamba from Delhi and Rajinder Rana from Himachal Pradesh also played key roles in the campaign.
Twelve star activists through their 56 public rallies solicited BJP candidates, in addition to door-to-door campaigns. Union ministers, including Som Prakash, Piyush Goyal, Ajay Bhatt, Nityanand Rai and Anurag Thakur, organized several public gatherings. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari were also in the city to support the Saffron Fold candidates.