Shimla- The less than five-month-old Congress government in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday wrested control of one of India’s oldest civic bodies, the Shimla Municipal Corporation, from the BJP, winning 24 out of 34 wards and reducing the opposition councilors to nine from the previous 17.
Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh, who started his political career as a councillor from Shimla, aggressively campaigned for the civic body that was won by the BJP for the first time in 2017 in 32 years.
“I thank the people of Himachal for their historical mandate to the Congress in the Shimla Municipal Corporation where elections were held on the party symbol after 10 years. This mandate affirms the trust of people of Himachal Pradesh in our government and developmental politics, ” he said.
Amidst a bipolar contest between the archrivals, the Congress and the BJP, the CPI-M won a lone seat. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) failed to open an account.
The CPI-M won the Summer Hill ward, the stronghold of its student wing the Students’ Federation of India (SFI). The CPI-M had won the seat last time as well, but the candidate had joined the BJP towards the fag end of the term.
State Congress chief Pratibha Singh expressed gratitude to the voters for the party’s decisive victory. She said the party would maintain the victory momentum in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections too.
The Congress was out of power in the municipal corporation from 2012 to 2017 as the CPI-M had its Mayor and Deputy and from 2017 to 2022, it was the BJP.
Fifty-nine per cent voter turnout was registered when the civic body went for polling on May 2.
The BJP had fielded women candidates from 23 wards, while the Congress from 18. Both parties were contesting from all 34 wards. The AAP and the CPI-M had fielded candidates from 21 and four seats, respectively.
While the Congress had promised to introduce policies for a uniform tax regime for both old and merged areas, the BJP promised to provide 40, 000 litres of free water to every household a month, besides a 50 per cent garbage bill waiver.
The five-year term of the Municipal Corporation ended in June 2022 but the election could not be held due to a court case which challenged delimitation of wards.
The previous BJP government had increased the number of wards from 34 to 41.
After coming to power, the Congress government in December abolished the seven new wards.