:The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday suffered a crushing defeat as it managed to win just 22 out of 102 seats of zila parishad it contested in seven Haryana districts.
The party, however, claimed that over 150 BJP-backed independent candidates have won the election in the 15 other districts of the state.
Results for 411 zila parishad seats in Haryana were announced on Sunday. The elections were held in three phases in the state.
The Congress and the BJP ally, Jannayak Janata party, did not contest the polls on the party symbol across the state.
The saffron party was wiped out in Panchkula and Sirsa. In Panchkula, it lost all the 10 seats in the district and in Sirsa, out of the total 24 eats, it lost on the 10 it had contested on party symbol.
In Ambala, the home district of cabinet minister Anil Vij, the BJP could win only two out of total 15 seats it contested. In Vij’s constituency, Ambala Cantonment, the sole seat went to the AAP.
In another setback, Kurukshetra BJP MP Naib Singh Saini’s wife Suman Saini ranked a distant fourth in the ward number 4 in their ancestral town of Naraingarh. Independent candidate Rajesh Devi emerged victorious in the ward. The BJP won three out of 15 seats it contested in Kurukshetra.
In Ambala City, BJP turncoat and AAP candidate Makhan Singh Lobana won against BJP’s Mandeep Rana, who is also the party’s district vice-president and close aide of two-time incumbent MLA Aseem Goel.
Manjeet Kaur, a candidate supported by Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), BJP’s ally in the state government, also won as an independent. The BSP bagged three out of the eight seats it contested in Ambala district.
In Yamunanagar, also the home district of education minister Kanwar Pal, the saffron party could clinch victory only on six out of the 18 seats. The AAP and the INLD also won one seat each in the district. BSP won four out of the 16 it contested in the district.
According to Haryana BJP’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Sharma, as many as 151 BJP-backed candidates in 15 other districts had also emerged victorious. He said out of the total 411 members in 22 zila parishads, the BJP has the backing of over 300 elected candidates.
BJP’s drubbing in the polls comes after an impressive win in the Adampur bypoll earlier this month. The zila parishad results are considered as a wake-up call for the BJP in view of the 2024 state assembly and general elections. This is the worst performance by the party since it attained power in the state in 2014.
“The policy to contest on party symbol in a few districts seems a key factor behind the poor performance of the BJP in the panchayat elections. But the defeat ahead of the assembly polls is worrisome for the ruling party,” said Dr Ramji Lal, a political observer and retired professor of political science.
The elected members will in turn elect the 22 zila parishad chiefs. The state has 143 panchayat samitis, comprising 3,081 members, who will further elect their respective president.
Haryana BJP president OP Dhankar tweeted, “many candidates who have contested on party symbol or were supported by the BJP have registered win the panchayat elections, many congratulations to them.”
Independents win big
Independent candidates won 13 out of 17 seats in Kurukshetra. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won only one seat in the district.
Out of the 25 seats in Karnal, 23 were won by independents, while the other two were won by INLD and BSP candidates. Out of 17 seats in Panipat, 16 were won by independents and the remaining by INLD candidate.
In Kaithal, independents won 20 out of the total 21 seats. The remaining seat was grabbed by the AAP candidate.
Independents secured all seats in the zila parishad polls in Rohtak, Rewari, Hisar, Jhajjar, Fatehabad, Bhiwani , Mahendergarh , Sonepat and Charkhi Dadri districts.
In Hisar, independents won all the 30 wards. In ward number 19 of Hisar, independent candidate Om Parkash defeated his rival Jagdish Kumar by just one vote.
INLD gains in Sirsa
In Sirsa, INLD had pitched its candidates on 21 wards, of which it secured win on 10 seats. AAP won 6 seats out of 19 it contested and BJP could not win a single seat out of the 10 it fought on party symbol in the district. Eight seats were won by independents.
From ward number 6 in Sirsa, INLD’s lone MLA Abhay Singh Chautala’s elder son Karan Chautala won the election by 625 votes. INLD spokesman Rakesh Sihag said the party had pitched 72 candidates on its symbol in the state, of which 14 won the elections.
AAP gets a handful
The AAP was able to win a handful of seats in the zila parishad polls. The party won 14 seats in the state, with impressive win of three seats in Ambala, six in Sirsa and two in Jind districts.
AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal congratulated the winning candidates and party’s workers for the performance in the polls.
Out of the 3,081 members of 143 panchayat samitis in Haryana, 117 had already been elected unanimously.
There were 11,888 candidates in the fray for the remaining 2,964 seats, the results of which were declared on Sunday.