With the ruling Congress sweeping the urban local body polls in Punjab, the Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today went after the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government, with the SAD alleging that the ruling party secured a win in the municipal elections by resorting to “state sponsored repression”.
In a statement, SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said that SAD candidates gave a tough fight to the Congress across the state with almost all seats witnessing a direct contest between the Congress and the SAD.
He said the SAD has emerged as the main opposition party in Punjab post municipal elections despite going alone for the first time and that the AAP has been “eradicated” in the state.
“The vote share of the SAD has also increased in urban areas,” Cheema said, adding that in contrast the AAP had been pushed to the fringes of Punjab politics. “AAP has secured the number four position in elections to the municipal corporations”, the SAD leader said.
“It seems the civil machinery and the Punjab Police has won the day for the Congress along with equal help from the State Election Commission( SEC).
“More than 500 nomination papers of SAD candidates alone were rejected along with a couple of hundred of other parties in an attempt to make the entire election process a nomination process. This alone calls for sacking of the SEC,” the SAD spokesman claimed.
He charged that the Congress had seen the writing on the wall much before the polls and “unleashed a systematic campaign of terror, intimidation, violence and murder”.
“Strong SAD candidates were identified in advance and either their nomination papers were rejected or their booths were targeted for bogus voting and rigging. This murder of democracy will be responsible for the downfall of the Congress party in the 2022 Assembly elections,” he said.
Reacting to these results, the AAP said the party has done well in the first-ever civic polls it contested in Punjab. In a statement, senior AAP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Harpal Singh Cheema, claimed that the results of the municipal bodies’ elections were a “good sign” for the party.
He said the AAP’s base in urban areas and its vote share have increased. “This is a good sign for the party that the Aam Aadmi Party will be even stronger in the urban areas by 2022,” he added.
Cheema also said the party had some shortcomings as it contested the local body elections for the first time in the state. “These shortcomings will be rectified after selfassessment. The work would be done to strengthen the party before the forthcoming assembly elections,” he added.
He said these muncipal election results were encouraging for the AAP leaders, workers and sympathizers that “now the party has become stronger in rural as well as urban areas”.
Cheema alleged that the farmers of Punjab were being “persecuted” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dictatorial attitude. He said that for the last several months, the farmers of Punjab had been agitating on the roads day and night against the Centre’s controversial farm laws, but instead of acceding to their demands the Modi government was playing “clumsy tricks” to “discredit” the farmers. He said the AAP would fight for the rights of the people against the “antipeople decisions” being taken by the Modi-led central government and Capt Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government.