Prem Singh, a resident of Hallomajra, waits patiently inside Mayor Rajesh Kalia’s office. It’s 11 am and he has been here for an hour, but he is not complaining. The sofas in the office are plush and the staff are treating the visitors to a steady round of tea and biscuits. “I am told the mayor has stepped out for a meeting, but he will be back soon,’’
Singh says. The large office is clean and airy, and people are strolling in without being quizzed by his staff, either at the gate or his office. ‘’Once this office fills up, people sit outside in the lobby,’’ confides another visitor who is using this time to read a newspaper. He seems to be a regular here, but he doesn’t want to divulge his name.
Prem Singh is here to take the mayor’s help to get his son admitted to Kendriya Vidyalaya. ‘’I am told Kalia ji is always willing to write a recommendation. Let’s see what happens now,’’ says Prem.
The day he was elected Mayor Kalia had promised to serve the city as a Nagar Sewak and not as a mayor. “The doors of my office will remain open for everyone,’’ he had said in his maiden speech. It’s one promise he seems to be keeping. Hundreds of citizens from different sectors of the city visit the mayor’s office every day, most to get a quick redressal of their problems, and some merely to vent their anger.
The peon at his office, who is often roped in to serve tea and biscuits to the visitors, says he has never been so busy. ‘’Around 50 people have already visited the mayor since this morning, more will troop in.” It’s a big change for him. ‘’Traditionally, people used to give their name etc to the mayor’s secretary, who would then give them a chit. That was the standard protocol. Now people just walk in,’’ he waves a hand.
Preeti Verma of Bakhra Beas Management Board (BBMB) Residential Welfare Society, Sector 35B, is very happy with the new system. “I have visited the mayor several times…I think this is my fourth visit. He is doing a great job, the doors remain open for everyone.” She added, “We were facing tree pruning and sewerage problem in our locality, but the mayor has sorted out both the issues.”
Manohar Singh, from Sector 35, also appears to be a regular. “At times he is busy and you have to wait patiently, but once he comes in, he is quick to meet as many people as possible to address their grievances.’’
News of his accessibility seems to have breached the borders of the city, for among visitors were people from as far as Kurali. Manjinder Singh of Kurali, who is looking for a job opportunity in the city, says he had met the mayor on March 19, and is upbeat that the mayor will guide him properly.
“It is so good that we are no longer at the mercy of his staff. I hope more and more officers will emulate his example,” he says.