In a ward where 70% voters are Punjabis, Palaniappan Swami (47), who hails from Salem district of Tamil Nadu, has won for the second consecutive time in the elections for Jalandhar Municipal Corporation held recently. Swami, who is in Congress, has been elected councillor from ward number 56 situated along side the Jalandhar Railway Station. The ward has a total of 9,023 votes, of which 1,800 are of Tamil origin, 70% Punjabis and the rest migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The ward is reserved for backward classes.
Swami, a scrap dealer, won by 530 votes against his opponent Dhawanjit Kaur, a SAD-BJP candidate. “I won with 200 votes in 2012 elections. This time, the winning margin is more than double because people saw me working for them,” says Swami in Punjabi, a language he is well versed in.
He says his first priority is to get the capacity of the sewer system of his ward enhanced and help settle people of his community who were promised by the government plots or small flats.
Swami’s parents had migrated to Jalandhar in search of work around five decades back and settled here in Kazi Mandi area, which is also called Madrasi Mohalla, home to around 200 families from Tamil Nadu who are mostly related to Swami. The locality has a Mariamma temple and most of the residents are in junk business. Some run small shops or are daily wagers. “He is a very helpful man. We wanted him as our councillor again irrespective of his origins,” says Harmeet Singh of Santoshi Nagar.