Bathinda Civic Polls Postponed Till June


MaaPeya Da LaaDLa
Efforts to resolve differences between the ruling alliance partners over seat-sharing for Bathinda civic polls got an impetus with the Punjab and Haryana High Court allowing the government's plea, seeking postponement of the elections.
The polls, that were scheduled to take place later this month, will now be held in three phases, beginning June 23. Bathinda, a stronghold of Dera Sacha Sauda, will go to municipal polls for the first time.
The Punjab BJP, which is unwilling to contest on less than 50 per cent of the total seats, sees enough reason to bargain for a bigger share, and this has triggered the feud. Meetings to resolve the differences between the two parties have so far remained inconclusive, say sources.
The state BJP is staking its claim on more seats on the assumption that SAD candidates may not be the favorites in an area, where the dera voters are in a sizeable number. And BJP leaders are confident that the fallout of the dera controversy will have no bearing on their party.
Last year when the controversy was raging, the BJP had condemned the state government for failing to ensure law and order. Its role during the entire controversy was passive, something which party leaders feel could go in its favour. The BJP is also banking on the urban status of Bathinda.
Interestingly, barring a few places, the BJP lost considerable ground in three cities where corporation polls were held last year. Sources said certain party leaders are in touch with dera representatives, but the sect's spokesperson Dr Aditya Insaan vehemently denied this when contacted.
This is the second time that polls in Bathinda have been put off. Last time, they were postponed by the government, citing security concerns in the wake of the raging Dera Sacha Sauda row. The elections were scheduled to take place along with the other four corporations.
Since then, the SAD has been actively involved in the development of the area. The constituency is hard to ignore for the alliance, given the fact that its top leader may have to contest parliamentary polls from Bathinda due to delimitation of seats. The dera, which has all through denied having extended support to the Congress in the assembly elections, is likely to against the Akalis.
The application filed by the Punjab government had sought extension on the grounds that college exams and harvest season was under way. "The students will have to suffer, if elections are held. Moreover, the harvest season will be at its peak as a result of which the farming community will not be able to participate," read the application. The Punjab government had submitted that the elections to 99 municipal councils and nagar panchayats may be held in three phases on June 23, 28 and 29.