IT IS Sidhuism all the way in the local bodies department headed by Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has brought the otherwise dull public office alive with his signature one-liners. An ace cricketer of yore, Sidhu, known for his colour-coordinated attire, is certainly a head-turner for his colleagues as well as visitors to his office. “Saade mantriji nu janta vaise hee dekhan aa rahi hai (People are coming to our office just to catch a glimpse of our minister),” said a woman employee at the Department of Local Bodies in Sector 35, Chandigarh.
It has just been two days since the minister shifted to this office from the Punjab Secretariat.
“People have to get passes to meet a minister there. It is a lot of inconvenience. That is why I have shifted here permanently. Anybody can come here anytime to meet me. Also, the entire office is here. Why do I need to sit in that office,” he says.
“Log sarkaron ke paas nahi aate, sarkaarein logon ke paas jati hain (People do not go to government. Governments go to people),” says Sidhu in a style typical of him to drive home the point that he would work for the benefit of people.
To make himself accessible, he plans to have three cellphones.
“I will have three separate phones for people, media and MLAs. I will get them today. Just that I hate black-coloured phones,” he grins.
But how will he handle his department? “Mein kaya kalp kar dunga (I will transform the system in this department),” asserts Sidhu, mentioning a number of problems.
“In Amritsar, there are 30-feet-high garbage heaps in residential areas. Similar scenarios in Jalandhar and Amritsar. I have asked my colleagues to give me a solution in seven days. I have told them I want to be a part of the solution.”
Sifting through presentations prepared by his department colleagues, Sidhu says, “Just see how improvement trusts fared. They made money for the exchequer. I will study how viable those are before the government plans to abolish them.”
A known Badal baiter, he does not miss taking a dig at them, “I was the first one to bring solid waste management. I went to the court, spent Rs 10 lakh from my own pocket. We will make things happen unlike before. I tried to set up a stadium in Amritsar. I gave a grant of Rs 80 lakh, got the site plan approved. But that was not to happen as it was my project.”
His future plans? “I will transform the cities. They will become liveable.” Where will the money come from? “Just look at the consumption of water. A jhuggiwala uses 2 gallons and a multi-storeyed house owner 200 gallons. Both pay similar amounts of bill. Why should we not charge those who can pay?” he asks.
So, would he tax urban voters who voted for Congress? “People want to live in good cities. They want parks. They do not mind paying to get good facilities,” he replies.