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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Chandigarh mayor Manoj Sonkar resigns, three Aam Aadmi Party councillors join BJP

The three AAP councillors switching sides is set to tilt the scales in favour of the BJP whenever fresh mayoral polls are held

PTI Chandigarh Published 19.02.24, 09:29 AM
Manoj Sonkar

Manoj Sonkar File

BJP leader Manoj Sonkar resigned as Chandigarh mayor and three AAP councillors joined the saffron party on Sunday, a day before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a plea alleging irregularities in the recently held mayoral polls.

Sonkar has submitted his resignation to the municipal commissioner, said Chandigarh BJP president Jatinder Pal Malhotra.

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The Congress and the AAP do not have an alliance and are only befooling the public. They will be exposed before the public, Malhotra told PTI.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Arun Sood said three AAP councillors -- Neha, Poonam and Gurcharan Kala -- joined the BJP in the presence of senior party leader Vinod Tawde.

Sood was also present when the three councillors joined the BJP.

The three AAP councillors switching sides is set to tilt the scales in favour of the BJP whenever fresh mayoral polls are held.

Prior to their joining, the BJP had 14 councillors in the 35-member Chandigarh Municipal Corporation and the AAP 13. Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher, who is a BJP member, also has voting rights as an ex-officio member of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.

The Congress has seven councillors and the Shiromani Akali Dal has one councillor.

The BJP had swept the January 30 Chandigarh mayoral polls, in a setback to the Congress-AAP alliance that alleged tampering with ballot papers by the presiding officer.

Sonkar had defeated the AAP's Kuldeep Kumar for the mayor's post, polling 16 votes against his rival's 12. Eight votes were declared invalid.

Kumar had later moved the Supreme Court.

On February 5, the Supreme Court had rapped the returning officer who conducted the Chandigarh mayoral polls, observing that it was obvious that he defaced the ballot papers and that he should be prosecuted, adding that his action amounted to "murder and mockery" of democracy.

The court had also ordered preservation of ballots and the video of the poll proceedings besides seeking the returning officer's personal appearance during the next hearing in the case on February 19.

An appalled Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud, who headed a three-judge division bench, had said the court would not allow democracy to be murdered like this and that the apex court would order fresh elections if not satisfied with the purity of the poll process.

The AAP and the Congress had hailed the court's observations, saying it was a "tight slap" on the face of the BJP.

Opposition councillors had earlier alleged that Presiding Officer Anil Masih tampered with the ballot papers, a charge rubbished by the BJP.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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