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Congress Retains Hold in Punjab Civic Body Polls; Farmers’ Protests Cast a Heavy Shadow on BJP’s Performance

In what can be seen as a major boost to Congress ahead of Punjab assembly elections 2022, the ruling party in the state on Wednesday won six municipal corporations and emerged as the largest party in the seventh, sweeping the urban body polls held against the backdrop of the farmers’ agitation.

The Congress party has registered an emphatic win in all of the eight municipal corporations that went to polls on February 14.

With the results emerging through the day, the Congress had won seven of the eight municipal corporation. Those seats won are Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Abohar, Batala and Pathankot. The result of Mohali corporation will be declared tomorrow. It only suffered reverses in Moga where it could not win the majority wards.

The elections were billed as a “referendum” on the recently introduced farm laws by the ruling Congress and Opposition parties like Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The BJP, which has taken a major hit during the elections, had cried foul play as a run up to the polls accusing the ruling party of “letting loose reign of terror” on the Opposition party.

The results have came as a breather for Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in view of the nagging dissensions within the party ranks. With talks already on to get former minister and his bête noire Navjot Singh Sidhu back into the state cabinet, a huge win was a must for him to emerge as numero uno in the Congress party. Moreover, with the party rock solid behind farmers agitation, a negative result could have put it in an embarrassing position.

As far as the Opposition is concerned, there was some sort of a relief to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Though the party, which broke off its alliance with the NDA over farm laws, failed to put up a strong fight against the Congress but ended up as runners up in the polls relegating AAP to third place.

The BJP that was facing a tough challenge in view of the ongoing farmers agitation suffered big reverses in some of the municipalities where they were considered strong. The Bharatiya Janata Party lost in Gurdaspur and Pathankot. However, in some of its party leaders, who had decided to contest as Independents seem to have done well.

An upbeat Congress was quick to term the success to its stand on farmers agitation. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has termed the victory as a “vindication of people trusting the Congress and its work and administration”. “The result has given us confidence that the people of Punjab are with the Congress and it will give a boost to our workers to work harder to ensure that we form the government in the state in 2022,” said PCC chief Sunil Jakhar, who announced a `capt for 2022’ slogan.

Meanwhile, SAD leader, Harsimrat Kaur Badal who quit the NDA over farm laws said, “The Congress used might, machinery and unleashed violence on the leaders of other parties, but SAD party workers have ensured that they fight and the results are here to see.”

She further said that the SAD would not only put up a better fight but form the government in 2022.

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