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BJP’s Rajinder Sharma elected mayor of Jammu; Congress boycotts election

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Jammu: Rajinder Sharma and Baldev Singh Billoria of the BJP were elected mayor and deputy mayor of the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC), respectively, on Friday.

The BJP and the Congress were in a straight contest for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor, but the Congress corporators boycotted the election in protest against the change of procedure of voting from secret ballot to open ballot.

The Congress mayoral candidate, Dwarka Nath Choudhary, however, polled one vote.

JMC Commissioner Rahul Yadav said that Rajinder Sharma was elected as mayor and Baldev Singh as deputy mayor.

“The election for the post of mayor has taken place. A total of 59 votes were polled — 57 went to BJP candidate Rajinder Sharma, one vote was declared invalid and one vote went to the Congress candidate,” BJP corporator Baldev Singh Billoria told reporters here.

For the post of deputy mayor, the BJP candidate defeated Sonika Sharma of the Congress.

The posts fell vacant last month following the resignation of incumbent mayor Chander Mohan Gupta and his deputy Purnima Sharma, both from the BJP, to focus on strengthening the party ahead of the assembly elections scheduled to take place after the conclusion of ongoing special summary revision of electoral rolls.

In the 75-member Jammu Municipal Corporation, the BJP has 44 corporators, the Congress 13 corporators and the rest are Independents.

Chief spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir Congress Ravinder Sharma told PTI, “Although we did not have the majority, we put up candidates for the contest. The change of procedure from secret voting to open ballot was undemocratic. It had not been done in the past. This undemocratic step forced us to boycott it.”

Two candidates each — Rajinder Sharma and Baldev Singh of the BJP and Dwarka Nath Choudhary and Sonika Sharma of the Congress — submitted their papers for the two posts on the last day of the filing of nominations on October 17, officials said.

Chander Mohan Gupta and Purnima Sharma took over their respective posts on November 15, 2018 after the BJP won the civic body during the Urban Local Bodies elections which were held in four phases from October 8-16 in 2018 after a gap of 13 years.

The current council is completing its five-year term next year. (With PTI inputs)

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