Jalandhar, June 1
After the victory in the Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll, a set of decisions taken by the AAP all seems to be focused on the upcoming civic body elections to be held in a few months in the state.
My area of focus is streamlining the functioning of civic bodies, ensuring the completion of work and addressing corruption.
— Balkar Singh, Local Government minister
After the declaration of the bypoll result, the AAP has so far announced Rs 95.16 crore for Jalandhar MC and got a brand new Minister for Local Bodies who hails from Jalandhar. Besides, the party has also been on an inaugural spree --- at least 11 new projects were recently initiated at Adampur by the former Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Kuldip Dhaliwal, estimated to be worth Rs 71.79 lakh.
In his maiden address in Jalandhar after induction into the Cabinet, Kartarpur MLA and Minister for Local Government Balkar Singh also said that his special area of focus was streamlining the functioning of civic bodies, ensuring completion of works and addressing corruption.
As far as the MC elections in Jalandhar are concerned, like the Sangrur debacle, the MC polls in the district will be a test for the AAP after the party drew a blank in Jalandhar way back in 2017. Though the party's position has been strengthened by the bypoll outcome, a slew of developmental (environmental) debacles in Jalandhar, make the MC a tricky department to deal with.
A slew of joinings of councillors have been ensured to consolidate the party's position but worry over various civic issues persists.
Garbage and the management of solid waste are two of the main issues in Jalandhar. Successive governments including AAP have also not done much to address the rising pollution in drains including the ones flowing through the city -- the alarming rise in chromium levels in Kala Sanghian drain is a case in point. Non-functional STPs pose an additional problem. The Latifpura demolitions, encroachments and land grab by the rich and powerful across the city have also gone unaddressed.
The BJP's significant success in urban strongholds (the party won two constituencies -- an equivalent of over 30 wards in MC) in the bypoll is also another factor that poses a challenge for AAP in urban areas.
Notably, in the 2017 MC polls, the AAP had drawn a blank in the Jalandhar MC polls. The Congress won 65 seats, the BJP 8, SAD 4 and independents won 2 seats.
Amidst this, the AAP banks on the popularity of the newly elected MP, goodwill of the newly inducted minister as well as the support of newly joined councillors to consolidate its position in the MC polls.
Speaking to the media here after being inducted as a minister yesterday, Local Government Minister Kuldeep Dhaliwal today said, “In the Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll, people gave a lot of love to us. The CM's works were trusted and faith was placed in MP sahib (Sushil Rinku). I thank you all. The CM has honoured Jalandhar residents by giving us a ministry. The priority for the Local Bodies (Ministry) will be zero-tolerance for corruption, addressing city's basic needs --- roads, city systems etc.”
“Corruption is a key agenda with us and there will be zero-tolerance for corruption. There are some issues with this. We will address these problems and streamline working," he said.
The minister was accompanied by MP Sushil Kumar Rinku, MLA Raman Arora, AAP leaders Rajwinder Kaur Thiara and Surinder Sodhi, among others.
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