Chandigarh: Sunday was the day of celebration for Congress as the The Congress on Sunday swept the civic body elections in Punjab. The ruling Congress today swept the three municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala while the opposition SAD-BJP alleged misuse of official machinery.
The Congress virtually swept the wards in the three important corporations as results were out by late evening, prompting celebrations in the ruling camp.
The results come as a boost for the Amarinder Singh led government in the state. The opposition alliance, however, alleged gross poll code violations and demanded to countermand of the Patiala corporation elections.
Polling was also held in 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats today, amid tight security arrangements.
Among the three municipal corporations, Patiala registered the highest poll percentage of over 62.22 percent followed by Jalandhar at 57.2 and Amritsar at 51 per cent while the voting percentage in the municipal councils and nagar panchayats ranged between 60-86 per cent.
In Patiala, the Congress won 58 wards while the opposition failed to open an account. In Jalandhar, 66 wards fell into the Congress's kitty followed by 8 which went to BJP and four to their ally SAD.
In Amritsar, Congress won 69 while 12 went to the SAD-BJP alliance.
The voting started at 8 AM and continued till 4 PM, a spokesman of the state election commission said here.
Tight security arrangements were made to ensure fair and free polling, which by and large remained peaceful barring a stray incident, officials said.
The main political outfits in the state: ruling Congress, SAD-BJP and AAP, were contesting the polls on their party symbols.
A total of 8,000 election staff and 15,500 police personnel were deployed at the polling stations. The Election Commission had ordered videography of 103 hyper-sensitive wards.
Polling was held for 222 wards out of the 225 wards of the three municipal corporations and 327 wards of the 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats.
In 90 wards, the candidates had earlier won unopposed, Of these, three were in the Patiala Municipal Corporation and 87 in municipal councils and the nagar panchayats.
Nearly 900 candidates were in fray for the elections to the three municipal corporations - Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar.
The civic polls in the state were held nine months after the state assembly elections after which the Congress stormed to power in the state.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hailed the poll results as a "clear vindication of the Congress policies and a resounding defeat of the opposition's deceitful propaganda."
Meanwhile, SAD-BJP demanded countermanding of the Patiala corporation elections.
A SAD-BJP delegation submitted a memorandum to State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu here and also sat on a dharna outside his office.
The SAD-BJP leaders claimed they had videography evidence of alleged blatant rigging and violence in Patiala.
Former minister and SAD leader Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, who led the SAD-BJP delegation, said "the Congress had murdered democracy in the state by using the police force to commit atrocities on Akali-BJP cadre".
He alleged that in Mullanpur Dakha a SAD candidate's mother was attacked and injured by Congress supporters.
"Similarly SAD polling agents were attacked by Congressmen in Sahnewal who barged into their booths with a group of outsiders. In Ghanour, when Akali-BJP supporters protested casting of fake votes they were thrashed..," he alleged adding the SAD-BJP would now take recourse to democratic protests as well as legal remedy.
BJP demanded a repoll in Patiala, Ghagga and some wards in Mullanpur Dakha and Jalandhar, alleging violation of model code and misuse of machinery by the ruling Congress.
Former Chief Minister Parkash Badal described the entire process of civic poll as "utterly uncivilised" and a huge blow to democracy in Punjab.
"This day will be remembered as a black Sunday for democracy in Punjab," Badal said in a statement here.
The AAP also alleged misuse of government machinery by the ruling Congress.
Meanwhile, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar thanked the people and party workers for ensuring smooth and impressive turnout in the polls, "despite the efforts by the Akalis to scuttle the poll process through threats, violence and rumour mongering in some areas."
He said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had lost its ground completely in Punjab, as in the rest of the country.