The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) staged a protest outside the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in Delhi on Friday, accusing the ruling party of ‘stealing votes’ in the recently held Chandigarh mayoral elections. The protest was attended by Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal, who slammed the BJP for ‘cheating’ the people of Chandigarh.
AAP leaders detained, placed under house arrest
The AAP alleged that several of its leaders, including MLAs, councillors and volunteers, were either detained or placed under house arrest by the police ahead of the protest. The party claimed that the police also stopped its supporters from reaching the protest site.
Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel and Deputy Mayor Aaley Mohd Iqbal were among those who were put under house arrest, according to AAP leader Gopal Rai. He demanded that the police should issue a clarification on this and release them immediately.
Kejriwal also took to X to express his anger over the police action. He wrote, “First votes were stolen in the Chandigarh mayoral elections. Now, people coming to protest peacefully against this are being stopped at various places across Delhi. Across Delhi, they are detaining elected MLAs, councillors and volunteers, who were coming to the party office. What is this going on?”
BJP wins Chandigarh mayoral polls amid controversy
The BJP swept the Chandigarh mayoral polls on Tuesday, retaining all three posts of mayor, senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor. However, the AAP alleged that the BJP indulged in ‘vote theft’ by manipulating the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and violating the secret ballot norms.
The AAP, which had fielded candidates for all three posts, claimed that it had the support of 14 out of 27 councillors, but only got five votes in the final tally. The party also accused the BJP of pressurising and bribing the councillors to switch sides.
The AAP demanded a repoll and a probe into the matter by the Election Commission of India. The party also approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking a stay on the declaration of the results and the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected mayor and deputy mayors.
AAP, BJP hold counter-protests in Delhi
In response to the AAP’s allegations, the BJP also organised a protest near the AAP head office in Delhi on Friday, accusing the Kejriwal government of ‘corruption’ and ‘misgovernance’. The BJP workers raised slogans against the AAP and demanded its resignation.
The police had deployed heavy security and barricaded the roads leading to the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, where both the party offices are located. The police also diverted the traffic and advised the commuters to avoid the area.
The AAP and the BJP have been engaged in a bitter political rivalry in Delhi, where the former is in power and the latter is the main opposition. The two parties are also eyeing the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab, where they are expected to face each other along with the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal.