NCP councillors switch to BJP as tussle for urban local bodies begins in Rajasthan

Jaipur: A tight tussle is on to form boards in 45 of the 90 urban local bodies in Rajasthan where no one has a clear majority with the Congress and BJP placing elected candidates under ‘political’ quarantine to avoid poaching and cross-voting.

In Newai municipal council in Tonk district, the constituency of former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, 17 councillors who won the elections on a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) tickets, switched loyalties, and joined the BJP on Monday. All the councillors had rebelled from the Congress and contested on NCP tickets.

Independents have emerged king-makers in the municipal elections, winning a majority in 46 of 90 urban local bodies where elections were held on January 28, and results were declared on Monday. The ruling Congress won 20 municipal bodies while the BJP emerged victorious on 24.

Elections for 3,064 wards spread across 20 districts and 90 municipal bodies were held on January 28 in the second phase of the polls. The Congress won a slim majority over the BJP, winning 1197 wards while the BJP emerged victorious on 1140. Independents won 631 wards, the Nationalist Congress Party won 46 and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party won 13, the CPIM 3, and the BSP won one.

In 45 municipal bodies where no one had a clear majority, the BJP, Congress, and independents are making efforts to form their boards. The BJP and Congress have shifted their winning candidates to safe locations to prevent any poaching. The parties are maintaining that the councillors are being given training and will stay put for the next six days till voting for elected chairpersons and governing boards is held on February 7.

Party leaders have been deputed at these centres to keep an eye on the councillors. In six of the municipal councils, the Congress and BJP have almost an equal number of seats. Here independents will be key in forming the boards. Leaders from both parties are trying to prevent any attempts at cross-voting and poaching.

State Congress president Govind Singh Dotasara has claimed that the Congress will form boards in over 50 of the 90 municipal bodies.

State BJP president Satish Poonia called the election result a verdict against the ruling Congress government. He said BJP has won a majority in 24 municipal bodies as against 20 for the Congress and this shows that people have rejected the Congress in 70 local bodies.

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