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BJP’s Sarabjit Kaur elected Chandigarh mayor


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Chandigarh, January 8

BJP’s Sarabjit Kaur was on Saturday elected the Chandigarh mayor.

In the 36-member Municipal Corporation House, 28 votes were polled as the Congress and SAD abstained from voting.

The BJP got 14 votes, AAP 13 and one vote was deemed invalid.

AAP councillors created a ruckus after the counting alleging that the BJP had been favoured in the counting process.

AAP councillors tried to stop the new mayor from addressing the House. Then, BJP councillors surrounded her chair. Later, marshals were called and they removed both set of councillors. 

Meanwhile, AAP president Prem Garg entered the Well of the House and was taken out by the marshals.

The BJP also won the senior deputy mayor poll as BJP’s Dalip Sharma polled 15 votes as against AAP’s Prem Lata who had 13.

Surge in Covid cases puts a brake on live performances

Amid a fresh round of Covid-19 restrictions being imposed in the district and the surging number of cases being reported every passing day, the cultural centres in the city once again gear up for uncertainty. Among the hardest hit sectors during the one and half years of pandemic, both socially as well as economically, the cultural and performing art industry is now being cautious, many suspending or postponing scheduled live performances and theatre festivals indefinitely.

Punjab Naatshala has announced suspension of all live performances and theatre activities indefinitely, till updated guidelines regarding Covid-19 are released by government. “All our live performances, including weekend theatre performances have been suspended keeping in mind the health safety of artistes as well as audiences. We have also postponed any theatre workshops that were scheduled during the period till January 15.

Similarly, Indian Academy of Fine Arts (IAFA) too has suspended the live art activities, including performances of three plays that were scheduled for the month of January. The last live art and cultural event that the gallery hosted was the New Year’s celebrations on January 1, 2022. “Although we have allowed rehearsals of the three theatre productions at our premises with not more than 10 artistes as a time, we will not stage them until the situation improves.

Kewal Dhaliwal, president, Punjab Sangeet Nataka Akademi, too has decided to postpone theatre festival scheduled in the month of January. “We host the Punjabi theatre festival and National Theatre Festival in the beginning months of January and February. It’s our annual theatre event and some of the biggest names of national theatre and performing arts participate.

Election Commission to announce poll schedule for Punjab, 4 other states later today

The Election Commission will announce poll schedules for Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur at 3.30 pm on Saturday.

Apart from the dates, the EC will also unveil Covid protocols the parties need to follow during the elections, with the poll body expected to task the political parties to follow protocols on their own and ban physical rallies.

The election announcement will come on a day when the WHO asked nations to do whatever they can to stop the surge of Covid and India saw 1,41,786 new cases.

The elections are crucial for the ruling BJP which will defend its governments in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur to bolster its chances in the run-up to the 2024 general election.

The Congress will be fighting for political relevance having been left in power only in Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh on its own and in Maharashtra in alliance.

The Aam Aadmi Party will be testing its might outside Delhi with candidates in the fray in Punjab, UP, Uttarakhand and Goa.

The elections will determine which way the winds are blowing for the BJP which had to repeal the three farm laws under pressure from farmers across the country, especially those from poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

It was clear that the BJP government had sensed a growing disaffection which could have harmed its electoral prospects in UP, where its leaders were unable to even enter villages in western UP for campaigning.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering a public apology while announcing the decision to repeal the farm laws, the BJP hopes to salvage the lost political ground.

The BJP had bagged 312 seats in the 2017 UP polls and 325 seats with allies — the first time any party had secured such a massive majority since 1977.

The SP, which had tied up with the Congress in 2017 and managed just 47 seats with Congress reduced to seven, has tied up with RLD this time along with smaller parties including of Om Prakash Rajbhar of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party.

The SP and RLD is hoping to put up a massive fight in UP, especially in western UP where the impact of farmers agitation and anger against the BJP was palpable until a while ago.

For the BJP retaining UP is key to winning 2024 general election which is why Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently told the state voters, “If you want to see Modi as PM in 2024, make Yogi Adityanath the CM in 2022.”

In Punjab the Congress which won 77 seats in 2022 under Amarinder Singh is fighting a high-stake poll with not a single candidate announced yet where challengers SAD and AAP have named majority of the contestants.

The ongoing turf war between CM Charanjit Singh Channi and state Congress chief Navjot Sidhu plus the aggressive BJP pitch on the recent lapse in PM’s security in the state will be important factors to watch in Punjab where AAP is yet to announce its CM face with Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann a frontrunner.

Equally important would be the reaction former Congress veteran and disgraced CM Amarinder Singh’s new party Punjab Lok Congress has.

Singh has allied with the BJP and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa for state elections.

Meanwhile, Delhi CM and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has said about the CM face that the CM face would be announced at the right time. “Once the CM face is announced election campaign should lift and not sag,” Kejriwal said.

In Uttarakhand where the BJP won 57 seats against Congress’s 11, the Congress is hoping to make a comeback while the BJP defends its government having appointed three CMs in five years.

In Goa and Manipur too where the Congress had emerged the single largest party in 2017 polls only to vacate its space for BJP, the fight will remain interesting.

Both states now have BJP governments formed on the back of serial defections from the Congress.

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