New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) The Congress on Tuesday hit out at the BJP alleging "brazen misuse of electoral machinery" and "shameless capture" of the democratic system in the country, after the ruling party candidate won the Chandigarh mayoral election defeating the INDIA bloc nominee.
The Congress also alleged foul play on the part of the BJP in the mayoral elections and said it is another example of its "arrogance and disregard for constitutional propriety".
The BJP swept the Chandigarh mayoral polls retaining the three top posts in a setback to the AAP and the Congress which had contested the elections as allies.
BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar defeated the AAP's Kuldeep Kumar for the mayor’s post, polling 16 votes against the 12 won by his rival. Eight votes were declared invalid.
BJP nominees Kuljit Sandhu and Rajinder Sharma were declared elected to the posts of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor, respectively. The AAP and the Congress boycotted the elections to these two posts.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said in a post on X, "The brazen misuse of electoral machinery at the behest of BJP in the Chandigarh mayoral polls will further erode the confidence of people in free and fair elections.
"As I said yesterday, 2024 is the last chance for us to save democracy. If we do not come together, to save it from BJP, our future generations shall repent." On the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, "Godse worshipper BJP has murdered democracy and all ethos of Constitution," the Congress chief said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a post on X, "It is beyond imagination what the BJP, which can kill democracy in front of the entire world in the mayor elections, will do to remain in power in Delhi." "Years ago, on this day, Godse had assassinated Gandhiji and today Godse-vadis sacrificed his ideals and constitutional values," Gandhi said.
In a post on X, Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said the development in Chandigarh "shows that it is second nature for the BJP to override the democratic mandate". "Brazen, shameless capture of the democratic system." "First they abruptly postponed the elections, and then devised a way to capture it. This is a warning for all those who are deluded into thinking that the Modi-led BJP will allow democracy to function if they win in 2024," he said.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh alleged that the "foul play" by the BJP is yet another example of its arrogance, absolute disregard for constitutional propriety, and disdain for democratic processes.
He said anticipating defeat upon the formalisation of the alliance of INDIA parties in Chandigarh, the BJP first attempted to delay the mayoral elections. After being forced to conduct the polls by the high court's intervention, the BJP resorted to "hijacking" the polls, he alleged.
"Of the 20 votes that INDIA secured in the Chandigarh mayoral elections, 8 have been ruled null and void by the Presiding Officer on various technicalities in a shockingly obfuscating manner. With the INDIA parties now reduced to 12 votes through this charade, the BJP with only 16 votes was declared the winner," Ramesh said in post on X.
"We will take the fight against BJP's 'anyay' to the courts and to the people. We will fight for NYAY for Chandigarh," the Congress Rajya Sabha MP said.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, "That the BJP chose January 30 to kill democracy in Chandigarh does not come as a surprise." After the BJP won the election, councillors from the two INDIA bloc parties protested in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation House.
Opposition councilors alleged there was tampering with the ballot papers in the elections, a charge rubbished by the BJP.
In a social media post, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal expressed “serious concern” over the "cheating" in "broad daylight". PTI SKC SMN