There are too many contenders for the coveted post of mayor among the ruling SAD-BJP alliance councilors.
A meeting called by Akali leader Charanjit Singh Rakhra to build a consensus and to know the preference of councillors for the new mayor turned out to be a damp squib as almost all 17 SAD-BJP councillors who attended the meeting laid the claim for the post. Interestingly, even the first timers didn't think that they were out of the race, saying that the party should think 'out of box'.
Charanjit had been assigned the duty to do the spade work gauging the mood of the councillors by rural development minister Surjit Singh Rakhra.
Interestingly, the main contenders for the post, including former mayor Ajitpal Singh Kohli, Amarinder Bajaj, Harpal Juneja and Harinderpal Singh Tohra didn't attend the meeting, as they had reportedly held secret individual parleys with Charanjit.
"You can call me a first-timer. Last time, my wife was a councillor. I have served Akali Dal for 10 years," said Jaspal Singh Bittu Chatha, who laid his claim for the mayor's post before Charanjit. Before joining politics, Bittu used to work as an employee in a firm owned by Rakhra.
Next claim came from Sukhminderpal Singh Mintu, who batted for his councillor wife Harpreet Kaur. "My claim is more strong as I left the Congress to join SAD. I was a councillor earlier, now its my wife. Its our turn as per seniority. Now, the city needs a woman mayor," he told Charanjit.
Similarly, Surinder Pehlwan, Balbir Kahrud, Rajinder Virk, Tarunjit Singh Billa and Rashpal Singh also laid claims for the post before the minister's brother.
However, Bittu later went mild and said that they all would abide by the decision of the party high command.
More interesting was the presence of BJP councillor Anil Bajaj, who was ignored by the party for the post of senior deputy mayor, which he had held during the last term. "I will wholeheartedly support the new candidate," he said in the meeting, which was called by SAD.
Meanwhile, minister Surjit Singh Rakhra said that he wanted to know the mind of councillors before forwarding a name to the party high command. "I can only say that all councillors and Akali leaders, including me, will abide by the party decision," he said.