After the shocking setback in what was billed as the first major contest between the BJP and the INDIA alliance, the AAP’s candidate for the Chandigarh mayoral elections broke down and began weeping in front of the cameras. Videos show Kuldeep Kumar, who was the candidate for the mayor’s post and was defeated by the BJP’s Manoj Sonkar, continuing to shed tears even as people around him consoled him and shouted slogans.
In the elections held on Tuesday, the BJP contested against an alliance of the AAP and the Congress, both of which are key constituents of the INDIA bloc. Ahead of the polls, senior AAP leader Raghav Chadha had predicted a “historic and decisive” win for the alliance, which, he said, would set the tone for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
After the BJP candidate won by polling 16 of the 36 possible votes and eight ballots were deemed invalid, the AAP accused the party of dishonesty and dubbed the polls an “act of treason”. The AAP is the ruling party in Punjab.
Terming the elections a worrying development, AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal posted on X, “The manner in which dishonesty has been done in broad daylight in the Chandigarh mayor elections is extremely worrying. If these people can stoop so low in a mayor’s election, they can go to any extent in the country’s elections. This is very worrying…”
Mr Chadha claimed that Mr Kumar, who polled 12 votes, would have won if the eight ballots had not been declared invalid by the presiding officer, Anil Masih, who is also a member of the BJP’s minority cell.
“This is ‘desh droh’ (an act of treason). Eight of our votes were declared invalid… not one vote of BJP was declared invalid. When a vote is declared invalid, the presiding officer has to show agents of all parties (the ballot paper). But today this didn’t happen.” the AAP Rajya Sabha MP said.
“Neither the election agent nor the deputy commissioner was shown the ballot paper before it was declared invalid. If they can do this for mayoral polls, imagine what they can do in Lok Sabha polls. Does the BJP want to turn India into North Korea,” he asked.
In videos shot at the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation after the election results were declared, Mr Kumar can be seen shedding copious tears while he is consoled by what appear to be other party workers. The AAP workers take turns to wipe Mr Kumar’s tears with their hands and handkerchiefs, and are also heard raising slogans against the BJP.
BJP National Spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill has, however, termed his party’s win a victory of democracy
“BJP’s victory in the Chandigarh Mayoral elections is the victory of democracy and the defeat of ‘thagbandhan’ of AAP and Congress. BJP’s victory is the victory of truth over lies, the victory of nation-serving politics over the politics of corruption, and the victory of people-serving politics over the opportunistic politics of AAP and Congress,” he said.
The loss in the Chandigarh mayoral polls is being seen as a huge setback for the INDIA bloc, coming just days after one of the alliance’s architects – Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar – switched over to the NDA. The switch itself coincided with a period of tumult within the alliance, with both the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the AAP in Punjab declaring that they would fight the Lok Sabha elections on their own in the two states.