Newly elected Mayor Raj Bala Malik (sitting), Senior Deputy Mayor Ravi Kant (extreme left) and Deputy Mayor Jagtar Jagga (second from right) with MP Kirron Kher, city party president Sanjay Tandon and former mayor Rajesh Kalia after victory at Municipal Corporation officer in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Friday. (Express photo/Jasbir Malhi)
The BJP’s Raj Bala Malik is city’s new Mayor. It was for the first time in this tenure of the House that not a single BJP vote went to the Opposition. Malik bagged all the 22 votes of the BJP-SAD combine while the Congress’s mayor candidate Gurbax Rawat got five. It is Malik’s second stint as the mayor after 2012.
To rule out cross-voting, city BJP chief Sanjay Tandon along with other leaders sat in the public gallery at a position exactly facing the voting corner in the assembly hall where votes had to be cast behind a white tent pitched for the purpose of secrecy.
Also, both the other posts of Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor were clinched by BJP councillors Ravi Kant Sharma and Jagtar Jagga respectively. In the election to these two posts as well, the BJP got all its 22 votes while Congress candidates got their five votes each. There were a total of 27 votes out of which one was that of MP Kirron Kher, 20 were of BJP councillors, one was of SAD councillor who is in alliance with the BJP and the remaining five were those of Congress.
Deputy Commissioner Mandeep Brar got the election process conducted. The process started at 11.15 am.
Before the voting was to begin, the Congress councillors demanded that all the gadgets, including mobile phones and even pens, be kept aside.
On this, Kher got up and said that they can even hold open voting as all of them were united. All of them then raised their hands saying that they support their official candidate Raj Bala Malik and had no differences at all.
However, Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla said that voting has to take place as per the Act and the Act doesn’t allow any open voting and only secret ballot has to take place.
Before the voting was to begin, councillors Heera Negi and Farmila went out of the assembly hall. After a few minutes when the polling was in progress, they came and sat in. It wasn’t checked if they were in possession of any gadgets.
Just after 40 minutes, BJP councillor Arun Sood and Congress councillor Satish Kainth went in to count for their candidates. As one candidate needs 14 votes to win, the moment Malik’s number touched 14, there was a loud cheer in the public gallery. After getting to know that she got 22 votes and not a single one was crossed, slogans of “Bharat Mata ki jai” were raised in the General House.
Malik kissed MP Kher’s hand and thanked everyone. Kher then took her to the mayor’s chair.
How the magic of unity worked
It was for the first time in this tenure of the House that the magic of unity worked so much that not a single vote crossed. Reason: strict directions from the high-ups that any person who crosses his vote will not get BJP ticket in the coming MC elections next year.
The Congress alleged that each BJP councillor was told to put their identity card near the ballot paper where they had to give a proof that they voted for Malik.
Congress councillor and leader of opposition Devinder Babla alleged, “It was not a fair election. We got to know from the insiders that they have to place their I-card near the ballot paper and click a picture. And those who did not get the proof they won’t be getting the ticket in the coming MC elections.” He added, “Moreover what kind of unity is it? Their party leaders had to sit to keep a watch on them so that they don’t cross their vote.”
However, the BJP leaders denied the allegations and said the elections were held in a fair manner. They said it is just that when the Congress loses, they raise these questions.