The much-delayed delimitation of the municipal wards in Punjab is expected to be over by December 25 and is likely to lead to the local bodies elections in February.
Of the total 168 civic bodies in Punjab, 123 are due for polls. The delimitation process is on for the past six months.
The state government has come out with no dates yet, but the elections are likely in early February, going by what chief minister Parkash Singh Badal indicated after his government was to file an undertaking in the Punjab and Haryana high court on December 17 about the schedule.
Punjab state election commissioner SS Brar has said he will require at least 50 days to conduct the elections after he had the complete delimitation report. “We have covered more than 90% civic bodies under the process (of delimitation) already,” said local bodies director Priyank Bharti.
The delimitation of the Tarn Taran municipal council and SAS Nagar municipal corporation wards is pending, reportedly at the behest of local bodies minister Anil Joshi. The final decision on delimitation in the municipal councils of Gurdaspur, Jandiala Guru, Nangal, Kiratpur Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Maluka and Arniwala is also awaited.
The case of Pathankot, it is hoped, will be decided by Tuesday (December 16). Pathankot, which is going to the polls for the first time after becoming a municipal corporation, is home to former state BJP president and local legislator Ashwini Sharma, so the BJP is eyeing the post of its mayor.
In the newly formed municipal corporations, the BJP expects to have mayors in Phagwara and Hoshiarpur, while the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) hopes to have their mayors in Moga and SAS Nagar.
Tarn Taran being the hometown of local bodies minister Anil Joshi, there is dispute over the map of new areas. The delimitation in the municipal councils and notified area committees of Nangal, Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib is delayed at the behest of industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal, as the case of Kiratpur Sahib has been sent back for review.
The delimitation of Maluka, the town to which rural development and panchayats minister Sikandar Singh Maluka belongs, is in dispute over the inclusion of some areas. Maluka belongs to the SAD, while Joshi and Mittal are from the BJP.
The SAD and the BJP are partners in the ruling coalition of Punjab and, on November 26, had decided to contest the civic body polls jointly. A day later, state BJP president Kamal Sharma had said that his party would not let the Akalis intimidate its workers.
Cases put up before before minister
The cases of civic bodies in Adampur, Sultanpur Lodhi, Kapurthala, Mukerian, Rupnagar, Khanna, Gobindgarh, Kharar, Samana, Rajpura, Dera Bassi and Malerkotla have been put up before the local bodies minister for approval.
In the past, the BJP has disagreed with the SAD on seat-sharing. The SAD has promised to give it no reasons for complaint this time. The BJP had stated that it would seek more seats wherever it felt appropriate.
SAD-BJP disagreement behind delay
A Punjab government notification in August increased the number of its representatives on the delimitation boards from one to two, to have one each from both ruling parties.
In most civic bodies, these two members took time to reach consensus, which delayed delimitation.
The other members on each board are sub-divisional magistrate as chairman; local bodies deputy director, executive officer, a representative of the deputy commissioner, and local legislator.