In what appears to be a calculated plan by Shiromani Akali Dal leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia to keep party rebel Kulwant Singh from becoming the city’s mayor, the Punjab government has sought legal opinion on reserving the SAS Nagar mayor’s seat for women.
Though he confirmed the development, local bodies minister Anil Joshi did not elaborate whether this should be done for only one municipal corporation or all six in the state where elections were held on February 22.
However, there is no provision in the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act 1976 to reserve or dereserve the mayor’s office after the elections are held.
Reservations for the post can be announced only before polls.
Kulwant, who along with his supporters won the SAS Nagar MC polls as independent candidates, holds the key to the mayor’s office. His group managed to bag 11 seats, and two more were won by other independents, while the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance won 14 and 22 seats, respectively. With neither mustering a majority of 26 seats to elect the mayor, both the SAD-BJP and the Congress are now depending on support from independents.
Last year Kulwant had contested the parliamentary elections from Fathegarh Sahib on a SAD ticket. After differences with party leaders, particularly Ramoowalia, he formed a rebel group following which he was expelled from SAD.
“We’ve sought legal opinion from the advocate general’s office on whether the mayor’s seat can be reserved for women. As of now this is planned for only one MC but I won’t be able to say which one,” said Joshi.
Kulwant has been eyeing the mayor’s office and is said to have the upper hand in deciding which party’s candidate will become the mayor.
Meanwhile, the state government has yet to notify the poll results for the mayor’s seat.