A day after flexing muscles against ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and demanding a re-election for the mayoral post in Ludhiana, the BJP on Wednesday did a volte-face and said that it did not ‘demand any such re-election.’ The party, however, said that the mayor should resign on moral grounds.
The incumbent Mayor, Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria of SAD, has been under fire ever since he sent the names of two councillors as having been nominated to the Finance and Contractual Committee (F&CC), to the Punjab local bodies department. This, despite councillors from the Congress, independents and most importantly from the BJP, in a meeting on December 20 last year, having opposed the nominations.
The Mayor however sent passed agenda of House meeting to local bodies department stating that House has granted him the power to nominate the two councillors — Balkar Singh of the Congress and Jagbir Sokhi from SAD. This is now being opposed tooth and nail by BJP.
During the House meeting on Tuesday, senior deputy Mayor Sunita Aggarwal even ran a mock House meeting after the Mayor had adjourned it and took over his chair. The BJP even got a letter signed from some councilors demanding a re-election.
On Wednesday, BJP district president Praveen Bansal clearly back tracked from statement and said, “We do not demand any re-election of Mayor in Ludhiana but we do condemn the way he adjourned the meeting in mid-way. However, with the kind of actions he is taking he should think if morally he deserves to sit on chair of Ludhiana Mayor. Ethically and morally, he should resign immediately but we are not demanding it”. Asked about party’s demand for re-election on Tuesday, he said, “The statement was given by senior deputy mayor Sunita Aggarwal and we stand by her even now.” Sources from the BJP confirmed that ‘local leadership in Ludhiana was asked by high command to be cautious in its relations with SAD after the high drama on Tuesday.’ “They are our allies and coalition dharma has to be followed. We can criticize them but going overboard is not right. Local leadership was cautioned about it,” said the source.
The equations between the allies have been in troubled waters with the BJP constantly targetting SAD and the Mayor in particular. Senior deputy mayor and the deputy Mayor, both from the BJP, have been opposing the Mayor’s decisions, the latest being demolitions done in Karimpura market with BJP standing with the shopkeepers who as per High Court orders are ‘encroachers’.
BJP has now approached local bodies minister Anil Joshi to intervene. “We will be requesting local bodies minister to get secret ballot done in MC house and see how many councilors support him,” said Bansal.
The Mayor on the other hand says that the ‘BJP has no right to talk about ethics’. “BJP is talking about ethics after what they did on Tuesday. Senior deputy mayor or deputy mayor cannot run House unless Mayor is on leave. I was in my office and they ran mock House a proceeding which is completely illegal. They have no right to ask for my resignation on moral grounds,” the Mayor told Newsline.
In MC House of 75 seats, SAD has 25 councillors and BJP has 12 while 20 are from Congress and rest are Independents.