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Akalis Sweep Panchayat Polls

CHANDIGARH – The Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP ruling combine routed the Congress again for a clean sweep in the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti polls on Tuesday evening. Not only has it drubbed the combined Opposition, it has handed the first political defeat to new Congress state president Partap Singh Bajwa.

The victory, besides consolidating the SAD hold over rural areas, is expected to help it in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. The party is likely to get a fillip in the Malwa region with the demolition of the Congress base among the ‘jat’ peasantry made during the stint of former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

While SAD has been practicing micro-management down to the village level for the last seven years, demoralisation in Congress ranks after the 2012 Assembly election outcome further helped its cause. The Congress has been unable to get its house in order and even its structure at the grassroot level is in a shambles. It is also facing erosion in its cadre, which is the single most important reason for the drubbing.

Sources said earlier there were always two groups in a village and the Congress got the vote of one group by default. The Akalis have now gone in for adjusting rival groups in most villages by re-distributing posts, resulting in today’s whitewash.

Congress sources themselves admit the election will have a bearing on the stature of party president Partap Singh Bajwa. The PCC chief campaigned vigorously and even knit together a broad alliance by arriving at a seat adjustment with the Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

This however did not have the desired impact. Bajwa was not helped by the fact that senior leaders, including Capt Amarinder Singh, kept away from the polls.

Bajwa loyalists, however, claim that had it not been for the PCC president, the situation could have been worse. They say the aggressive stand taken by Bajwa encouraged Congressmen to take on the Akalis.

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