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Facing protest, BJP contests 29% seats


Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 4

Amid reports of BJP leaders facing opposition from supporters in view of the ongoing farmers’ stir, the party has fielded 670 candidates across 2,302 wards in eight municipal corporations and 109 municipal councils and nagar panchayats of the state going to the polls on February 14.

A total of 15,305 candidates, including 10,193 Independents, have filed their nomination papers.

The ruling Congress has fielded 1,652 candidates, followed by the SAD (1,526), AAP (1,155) and the BSP (102). Going by the data released by the State Election Commission, the BJP has fielded candidates on 29 per cent of the seats. On the other hand, the Congress has fielded candidates on 72 per cent of the seats, followed by SAD (66 per cent) and AAP (49 per cent).

This makes the grass-roots political bout — the first since the farmers’ stir began against the central farm laws — a four-corned contest as the BJP is going solo after the SAD walked out of the alliance.

In the wake of anger in the state against the BJP, the Congress and other parties supporting the farmers’ agitation claimed the elections would be a mini-referendum on the central farm laws. The BJP, on the other hand, is trying to counter the narrative by mobilising its voter base in areas such as Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Bathinda, Rajpura, Abohar, etc.

Sources in the Congress said though the party was fighting all seats, in some municipal councils and nagar panchayats, candidates had filed papers as Independents due to political reasons.

In case of the BJP, candidates were reluctant to contest on the party symbol due to farmers’ stir and were contesting as Independents, mainly in the Doaba region. “A true picture will emerge on February 5, the day of withdrawal of papers,” said officials in the commission.

The officials said 3,218 candidates had filed nominations for eight municipal corporations — Bathinda (417), Abohar (388), Batala (420), Hoshiarpur (343), Moga (577), Pathankot (336), Mohali (419), and Kapurthala (319). Apart from this, 11 candidates had filed nomination papers for ward No. 37 of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation.

They added 400 members would be elected to eight municipal corporations, while 1,902 would be elected to 109 municipal councils/nagar panchayats in the state. As many as 20,49,777 male, 18,65,354 female and 149 transgender voters, totalling 39,15,280, are eligible to exercise their franchise.

Facing protest, BJP contests 29% seats