Shimla: In a major setback to the ruling Congress, the party faced a humiliating defeat in elections to the Shimla Municipal Corporation, its 25-year-old bastion, months ahead of the state assembly polls.
It not only lost the majority in the 25-member local house, but also lost the posts of mayor and the deputy mayor to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
Both were elected directly by voters for the first time. The BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the 2012 municipal polls.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has in recent years expanded its support base in Shimla. The city municipal corporation is one of the oldest civic bodies in the country.
CPI-M`s Mayoral candidate Sanjay Chauhan won the election by defeating his nearest BJP rival SS Minhas, a former surgeon, by 7,868 votes. Chauhan got 21,903 votes.
Congress candidate and sitting Mayor Madhu Sood finished third with 13,278 votes. The state assembly elections are due in December, 2012 but is likely to take place in October.
For the post of deputy mayor, Tikender Panwar of the CPI-M won the post by defeating his nearest rival Digvijay Chauhan of the BJP by a margin of 4,778 votes. Panwar polled 21,196 votes. Congress candidate Devinder Chauhan finished third (13,205 votes).
However, a clear majority eluded both the Congress and BJP in the elections.
In the final vote tally, out of 25-wards, the Congress got 10, while the BJP 12 and the CPI-M three. In the previous term, the Congress had 15 members, BJP eight and the CPI-M two.
The results are seen as a major setback for state Congress Chief Kaul Singh. Most of the losing candidates are considered close to him.
The elections saw 64.08 percent polling on Sunday. The municipal corporation house has 29 councillors, including 25 elected ones, three nominated and the local legislator Suresh Bhardwaj also has one vote.