Coming close on the heels of its debacle in the Rajya Sabha elections, the Congress in Haryana received yet another jolt when party-backed Independent candidates were defeated in the elections to 46 urban local bodies, the counting for which was carried out on Wednesday.
Though Congress did not contest the polls on its symbol, it had lent support to Independents to take on the ruling JJP-BJP combine.
The party-backed candidates could win the president’s post in Assandh, Nissing, Naraingarh, Ratia, Sirsa, and Bawal. Congress has 15 MLAs in the areas where the local body polls were held and out of them, it could win on just two Municipal Committees.
The BJP-JJP combine won control over 25 of the 46 municipal bodies.
The Congress couldn’t even get much success in its strongholds — Rohtak, Jhajjar, and Sonepat. Jhajjar, the bastion of Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda, was completed routed by the ruling party candidate. The elections were held when the state unit is headed by Udai Bhan, a Hooda loyalist. Bhan had
recently replaced his rival Kumari Selja.
The BJP won the president’s post in both Jhajjar and Bahadurgarh, which fall in the areas represented by Congress MLAs. In Ganaur and Kundli Municipal Committees, and Gohana Municipal Council too, the BJP won. Gohana is represented by a Congress MLA.
In the Meham Municipal Committee in Rohtak, an Independent won.
The BJP also registered victories in Ferozepur Jhirka and Punahana Municipal Committees, and in Nuh Municipal Council, the JJP won. These areas have three sitting Congress MLAs.
Notwithstanding the losses, Congress leaders tried to put up a defiant stand. “The candidates didn’t fight on party symbols. Also, the BJP has got a little over 25 per cent of the votes in urban areas, which shows a gradual decline in its voter base,’’ claimed a party leader.
In Narnaul, Congress MLA Kiran Choudhry’s supported candidate Kamlesh Saini won, while in Charkhi Dadri and Bhiwani, her supported candidates lost. She had registered her dissent when Congress chose not to fight on the party symbol.
New entrants in Haryana politics, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), could manage to win just one seat after having contested 45.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the ruling BJP-Jannayak Janta Party combine for its good performance in the municipal polls and said the people of Haryana have expressed full confidence in the state government over the way it is developing the state.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar congratulated the BJP candidates who won the elections, claiming that the victory reflects the trust of the people in the party.
(With PTI inputs)