Congress leader from Dera Bassi Deepinder Singh Dhillon, who lost the 2017 Assembly elections, has been on a foundation stone-laying spree of government projects in the constituency, which has triggered protests from the Opposition.
Over the past several months, Dhillon has laid the foundation stones of several government schemes in villages of Dera Bassi Assembly constituency. On each of the foundation stones, his name is mentioned as the ‘halqa in-charge’ (constituency in-charge).
Dhillon had lost the 2017 Assembly polls to N K Sharma of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). He had lost the 2012 Assembly polls from the same constituency, and had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Patiala constituency as a SAD candidate.
The foundation stones also carry the names of local government officials of Mohali district and Dera Bassi administration. The name of SDM Maheshwar Sharda and Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) Sukhchain Singh Papra are also mentioned.
Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Sunam MLA Aman Arora said “this trend of halqa in-charges throwing their weight around in constituencies where they had lost was not limited to Dera Bassi”. “In my constituency, the entire family of the local Congress in-charge is involved in attending official meetings or distributing cheques of government aid. They move around with police escorts and there is no check on them,” he claimed.
Former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Vijay Sampla said there was a “disparity in what the Congress said and did”. “Before elections Congress used to raise a hue and cry about other parties having halqa in-charges and usurping authority of elected candidates. Now Congress is doing the same. This VIP culture of the party will never go away,” he alleged.
When contacted, Dhillon said, “Am I doing anything illegal? I have fought four elections from the constituency. I am bringing crores of rupees for development of the area. I am not doing anything wrong. This objection is just a ploy of SAD MLA N K Sharma to stop development work in the constituency. Just ask the people of the area what all I am doing for them. I am answerable to them.”
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Sunil Jakhar told The Indian Express that there was no office-bearer in the state which the party had appointed as “halqa in-charge”.
“We do not have any such designation in our party. In fact we do not lend any credence to such appointments which are quasi official in nature,” he added.
Dera Bassi MLA N K Sharma said the projects for which Dhillon had laid foundation stones fell under either finance commission grants or those of MNREGA. “He has lost four times in elections and twice from me. Yet he is throwing his weight around in the constituency with blessings of the Congress government,” he added.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines