The Congress Tuesday appointed its councillor from Ward Number 12, Karamjit Singh Rintu, as the eighth mayor of Municipal Corporation of Amritsar. He will be first Sikh mayor of holy city.
The Congress had appointed minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa as observer for the city. Bajwa also announced Raman Bakshi as senior deputy mayor and Younis Kumar as deputy mayor of city.
The Congress has returned to power in the city civic body after a gap of 10 years, winning 64 out of 85 seats in elections last month.
Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is an MLA from Amritsar, stayed away from the official function held in the new building of the MC. So did 15 Congress councillors said to be his supporters. They are upset about Sidhu’s opinion being reportedly ignored in picking the city mayor.
Another local Congress MLA, Inderbir Singh Bularia, was also absent from the function.
Sidhu is MLA from Amritsar East and is also ex-officio member of the MC house. All five MLAs from the city belong to Congress.
Earlier in the day, Cabinet minister Rural Development Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa said that he had announced the name of mayor as decided by the party high command.
An old Congressman, Rintu was never considered close to Sidhu in Amritsar politics. First mayor of MCA was elected in 1991 and since then, Congress has held the post twice while BJP held it thrice. Both parties always preferred Hindu faces as the mayor.
Rintu had unsuccessfully contested on a Congress ticket from the Amritsar North Assembly constituency in 2012 polls. In 2017, Rintu couldn’t get ticket from Amritsar North and Amritsar East Assembly constituencies. Sidhu himself contested from Amritsar East on a Congress ticker while his close aide Sunil Dutti contested and won from Amritsar North. Rintu had openly expressed his dissatisfaction over ticket given to Dutti.
Asked the reason behind absence of Sidhu and his supporters, Bajwa said, “Councillors must have some compulsions. Minister may have his own engagements. But there is nothing more to it. We will try to confirm why they couldn’t come.”
He added: “Navjot Singh Sidhu is our minister. He is part of our government. I regret if there was any gap in communication on my part. He knew everything. He gave it in written that he would accept high command decision.”
Bajwa had even gone to house of Sidhu on Tuesday morning to resolve the matter. Sidhu, however, didn’t meet Bajwa.
While Sidhu was not available for comment, Rintu said, “It is not a big issue and will be resolved. I will go to Sidhu’s home and resolve the issue. It will not affect the development of the city. Congress will work together for the development of city.”
Later, Sidhu’s supporters and councillors held a press conference to explain their side of story.
Councillor Jatinder Singh Motti Bhatia said, “We came to know that our boss (Sidhu) was ignored in decision making process. What Sidhu wanted was welfare of the city. He is the local bodies minister and we have seen how much city has suffered from the tussle between mayor and ministers during pervious SAD-BJP government. We have become councillors due to Sidhu’s blessings. It was shocking to us that he was ignored.”