AAP's Kuldeep Kumar assumes charge as Chandigarh mayor

The Supreme Court had declared Kumar the new mayor as it overturned the result of the mayoral poll in which the BJP candidate had emerged winner

New Chandigarh mayor Kuldeep Kumar (photo: PTI)
New Chandigarh mayor Kuldeep Kumar (photo: PTI)
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PTI

AAP councillor Kuldeep Kumar on Wednesday assumed charge as mayor of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, over a week after the Supreme Court declared him as the civic body chief. Senior Congress and AAP leaders, including Pawan Bansal, H.S. Lucky, S.S. Ahluwalia, Pradeep Chhabra, and several councillors were present on the occasion.

On 20 February, the Supreme Court declared Kumar the new mayor of Chandigarh after it overturned the result of the mayoral poll in which the BJP candidate had emerged winner.

It had also ordered prosecution of election returning officer Anil Masih, a BJP leader, for his "misdemeanour" after finding serious faults in the conduct of the 30 January election, following which the BJP's Manoj Sonkar was declared winner. He had defeated the comfortably placed AAP-Congress alliance candidate after the returning officer declared eight votes of the coalition partners as invalid, drawing accusations of ballot tampering.

Sonkar ostensibly defeated Kumar after polling 16 votes against his rival's 12. Councillors of the AAP and the Congress later boycotted the elections to the posts of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor, leading to the victory of BJP candidates Kuljit Sandhu and Rajinder Sharma respectively.

Kumar, who was the joint candidate of the AAP and the Congress, had initially moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the declaration of the mayoral election result on 30 January. Failing to get any interim relief, he moved the Supreme Court to quash the election of the BJP candidate.

Meanwhile, elections to the posts of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor will be held on 4 March. The Chandigarh administration on Tuesday placed a formal schedule regarding the polling before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Congress councillors Gurpreet Singh Gabi and Nirmala Devi, the candidates for senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor respectively, had moved the high court, challenging the notification of the Chandigarh deputy commissioner to conduct elections for these posts on 27 February.

The Union territory administration then withdrew its earlier notification and issued the fresh notification for holding the polls on 4 March. Gabi and Nirmala filed their nominations on Wednesday. The mayor is the presiding officer for the elections to the posts of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor.

The BJP has 17 councillors in the 35-member Chandigarh corporation. The AAP has 10 while the Congress has seven councillors. The Shiromani Akali Dal has one councillor. The party's strength increased from 14 to 17 after three AAP councillors switched over to it on 19 February. Chandigarh BJP MP Kirron Kher also has voting rights as an ex-officio member of the corporation.

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