The first Ludhiana Municipal Corporation meeting of the year was adjourned without a single agenda being passed Wednesday.
There was a collective protest by Congress, the Bains group and even BJP councillors against Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria (for his decision to deny entry to media personnel to cover house proceedings) and proposal to combine water/sewage and power bills.
Two issues dominated the meeting, leading to the protest. First, the councillors opposed the new policy okayed by the Punjab cabinet to combine water/sewage and power bills. Also, photojournalists were asked to leave the meeting hall by the Mayor, who said they cannot stay for more than half an hour to cover the proceedings.
Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Bains and BJP councillor Inder Aggarwal said the new policy to combine the water/sewage and electricity bills was ‘unscientific’ and had been chalked out with ‘going into details and doing any survey.’
BJP councillor Inder Aggarwal and district president Parveen Bansal slammed the ‘dictatorial’ attitude of Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria.
“Was there anything to hide? If there was, it raises questions. For years, the media has been covering House proceedings and now the Mayor cannot ban them,” said Bansal.
As Mayor asked photojournalists to move out, the scribes also accompanied them and led a protest outside MC office against Mayor. Later, Gohalwaria asked media to return to the hall, but they refused and demanded an apology. Municipal commissioner G K Singh Dhaliwal said, “It was not needed at all to ask mediapersons to leave the hall or put any cap on their timings. I was ready to apologise on the Mayor’s behalf but they insisted on an apology from the Mayor himself.”
Meanwhile, another issue erupted between Gurpreet Singh Khurana, councillor from Bains group, and SAD councillors Kanwaljit Karwal and Jagbir Sokhi. Khurana alleged that he was “attacked and manhandled” while SAD councillors denied the allegations.