December 14, 2016 5:12:14 am
The Aam Aadmi Party Tuesday claimed a “historic win” in its “debut” in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) elections, with “14 AAP-backed candidates” being declared victorious. There were a total of 17 seats.
The AAP called it a “referendum” on the Centre’s demonetisation move, and said that the polls were a litmus test for the BJP and the Congress ahead of the municipal polls next year.
The Congress and BJP, however, downplayed the significance of the APMC polls and maintained that they had “not backed any candidates” this time.
The APMC polls to elect representatives of seven wholesale mandis are facilitated by the Delhi government through the Agricultural Marketing department. The elections are held every five years in Azadpur Mandi and every three years in the six other wholesale mandis.
While polls were due in Azadpur Mandi in February, the terms of the remaining six mandis had expired in September. Hence, elections for all were conducted at the same time, a senior government official said. Though there are a total of 18 seats, one was left out as no candidate contested. Around 6,000 commission agents are enlisted as electors and each seat is contested by 10-15 commission agents.
The elections had so far been obscure, with no significant political implication. “This is a referendum on Modi’s demonetisation by the traders of the capital. They have given a clear mandate. Also, this is a semifinal to the upcoming municipal polls. Traders are unhappy with BJP while Congress has failed to come up as an alternative,” said AAP Delhi unit convenor Dilip Pandey.
Amit Malhotra, who won from Azadpur Mandi, said, “After election results are announced, traders who win usually go to the government seeking their support in the functioning of mandis, but that does not mean they become that party’s members or sympathisers. The AAP’s claims that candidates backed by them won are absolutely false.”
Malhotra refused to reveal his political affiliation but added, “The AAP openly opposed my candidature.”
Meetha Ram Kripalani, who won the Delhi Agricultural Marketing Board seat, said, “I am a member of the AAP but not all candidates who won are AAP members. After results were declared, 13 of us decided to support the ruling party.”
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