Monday, June 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India





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Badalís candidate loses
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Claims and counter claims by both the ruling Congress and the main opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) started as results of 10,000-odd gram panchayats in Punjab, which went to the polls this morning, started pouring in late tonight.

The SAD suffered a major setback when its candidate lost at Badal, the native village of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Congress candidate Jaswinder Kaur was declared winner.

In Tohra village, candidate of former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Satwinder Singh, was declared elected by 82 votes after recounting of votes. Earlier, rebel Akali Dal nominee Bahadur Singh was declared elected. In the adjoining Chanarthal Kalan village, Congress-supported candidate defeated unified Akali Dal nominee.

The Congress was heading for a big win at Mehraj (Bathinda), the area to which the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, belongs.

In all, there are 28,973 candidates seeking election as sarpanch while 1,18,983 candidates are in the fray for the position of panch. The election to 2,091 gram panchayats have been unanimous this time.

Heavy polling, coupled with widespread showers in the afternoon, delayed the counting of votes. According to reports reaching here, counting was in progress at most of the places until late at night. The first few hundred results announced indicated that all first nine results in Kartarpur went in favour of candidates supported by the SAD.

In Ajnala, unofficial sources said 25 of 28 gram panchayats voted in favour of Congress-supported candidates while the remaining went with the Akali Dal. Elections in remaining 21 gram panchayats of the block were unanimous.

In Faridkot, the spoils were evenly shared by both the Congress and the SAD.

The State Election Commissionís office here had not received any result until 11 p.m. The reports suggested that results of some of the important gram panchayats were being held back and might be announced tomorrow morning. In Chanarthal Kalan, which is adjoining Tohra village, the unified Akali Dal candidate lost to the Congress candidate.

A spokesman for the Election Commission said counting of votes in 10 villages of Kahnuwan block and five in Dhariwal block of Gurdaspur district had been stopped till further notice.

In 24 villages ó four in Ludhiana, one each in Ferozepore and Ropar, three in Jalandhar, five in Amritsar, seven in Gurdaspur, one in Bathinda and two in Patiala ó fresh polling will be held on July 13. In seven of these villages, the polling had to be cancelled because of discrepancies in the ballot papers and at remaining places, postponement was necessitated mainly because of law and order problems.

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