Why INDIA block's 8 votes were declared invalid in Chandigarh Mayor Polls? Presiding Officer responds
On Tuesday, BJP won the Chandigarh mayoral elections with 16 votes to its mayoral candidate Manoj Sonkar.-
The Chandigarh Mayor Election on Tuesday concluded controversially with AAP-Congress led INDIA alliance councillors accusing the Presiding Officer Anil Masih of rigging the polls in favour of the BJP. On Tuesday, BJP won the Chandigarh mayoral elections with 16 votes to its mayoral candidate Manoj Sonkar. While it was expected that the AAP-Congress alliance would win the Mayor elections as numbers favored them, however, it was the saffron party that won the polls, courtesy of 8 votes of INDIA councillors that were declared invalid by Presiding Officer Anil Masih.
While AAP and Congress councillors accused the Presiding Officer of deliberately marking on ballot papers to declare them as invalid, Masih had stated that he only signing the papers. This sparked a massive controversy with AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha demanding the arrest of Anil Masih for 'committing treason'. Not only this, Delhi CM Kejriwal, Punjab CM Mann also slammed the BJP and Masih for pulling out such an act. However, why the Presiding Officer declared 8 INDIA block votes invalid was not revealed. Finally, after a massive uproar, Chandigarh Mayor Presiding Officer Anil Masih broke his silence and narrated what actually happened during the Chandigarh Mayor Election. Below is what Anil Masih said-
"A total of 36 votes were cast. When we were issuing the ballot papers, a few AAP and Congress Councillors were concerned that the papers had spots and marks - so, they asked me to change around 11 ballot papers,” said Masih while talking to a newswire, He further said, " honoured their request and kept the ballot papers in question on the side and issued them fresh ballot papers."
"When I finished the counting of votes, I was about to declare the results as per the process. BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar received 16 votes and AAP candidate Kuldeep received 12 votes; 8 votes were invalid...I asked the polling agent of AAP-Congress candidate to check the ballot paper but instead of doing that AAP and a few Congress councillors jumped on the table to disrupt the process, captured the ballot papers and tore them up...AAP and Congress hatched a conspiracy to derail the election process," added Anil Masih.
On being asked what was the issue with 8 votes that were declared invalid, Anil Masih said, "There are few marks including ticks were present on the ballot papers which should not be there. It was found after voting and therefore those 8 votes were declared invalid."
The BJP emerged victorious in the Chandigarh mayoral polls, securing the top three positions and dealing a significant blow to the AAP and Congress alliance, which contested the elections together under the INDIA bloc banner. INDIA block councillors have stated that they will approach the High Court and appeal against the decision.