Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance is facing a daunting challenge to retain its control over the municipal council of the ancient town of Rupnagar. The SAD and BJP alliance have fielded candidates on all 21 wards of the town, while Congress candidates will contest 20 wards.
Besides, the 17 Independent candidates — so as to challenge the main political parties — have also formed the Rupnagar Vikas Morcha. Many of these morcha candidates are members of the Aam Aadmi Party, left parties and the SAD rebels. The Peoples’ Party of Punjab (PPP) has fielded two candidates from Rupnagar.
While the SAD-BJP alliance is contesting elections on the agenda of development, Congress and other independent candidates are seeking votes by highlighting negatives of the ruling alliance. This time, rebels are also causing headache to the alliance.
Also, these elections are matter of prestige for Punjab education minister and local member legislative assembly (MLA) Daljit Singh Cheema and state industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal who are making all-out efforts to ensure the victory of their party candidates.
Interestingly, there seems to be little coordination between the BJP and SAD candidates in terms of joint campaigning.
Initially, the Congress party had decided to contest the polls in alliance with the PPP and left parties, but the party snapped the alliance at the last moment to adjust its candidates to rival factions, apparently with the intervention of senior Congress leader Ambika Soni. The Rupnagar MC is facing severe financial crisis with liabilities of about Rs 3 crore, and do not have enough money even to pay salaries to its employees.
The state government had announced to provide grant of `2 crore to the MC before the last Lok Sabha polls. The civic body had got the works done in anticipation of availability of the grant. However, the state government failed to provide funds.
The manifold increase in the water and sewerage tariffs with arrears from 2009 has caused great resentment among residents, and the issue could dent prospects of the ruling alliance.
Traffic, parking woes
The traffic problem in the town is getting aggravated day-by-day. Since there is no proper parking site in the town, people often park their vehicles on the roads that leads to traffic snarls, particularly on the circular road. Since authorities have failed to address the problem, the issue is haunting the town for long. There are no traffic lights in the town.
Poor sanitary conditions
Poor sanitary condition is another major problem of the town. Heaps of garbage can be seen at various places, presenting ugly look of the city. The garbage containers placed at some points also seem to be of little help as most of them are damaged.
Improper water drainage system
There is no proper storm water drainage system in the town, as a result of which low lying areas are inundated during heavy downpour. The stagnated rain water also damages the roads.
The residents are facing a lot of problems due to frequent arrival of monkeys from the nearby Shivalik foothill area. Monkeys create trouble for the residents, and cause damage to goods and water tanks on rooftops of the houses.
Incomplete water treatment plant
The water treatment plant being constructed to provide 100% supply to the town is yet to be functional.
Stray cattle and dogs cause nuisance for residents. Though there is a cow shed in the town, the stray cattle can be seen roaming at every nook and cranny.
Number of seats 21
Total number of registered voters 39,612
Male voters 20,458
Female voters 19,154
Wards reserved for SC candidates 2
Wards reserved for BC candidates 1
Wards reserved for women 5
Wards reserved for SC women 2
SAD contesting 13 wards
BJP contesting 8 wards
Congress contesting 20 wards
Rupnagar Vikas Morcha contesting 17 wards
Last Time’s results
Total budget Rs 8 crore
Expenditure on salaries Rs 7.5 crore
Allocation for development works Rs 50 lakh
Cleanliness, maintenance of roads and decongestion of traffic at important points of the city should be the first priority of the newly-elected representatives. Ajay Jindal, president, IMA member.
The councillors should be made accountable for the works done by them for their respective wards. They should work towards the prompt redressal of the issues that matter. Ajmer Singh, educationist.
The councillors should be more accessible to the people of the area. The MC should have a Suvidha centre for providing better services to residents. Varinder Pal Singh, businessman.
The representatives should work for the development of tourism in the town and for improving sanitary and traffic problems. Balbir Singh Saini, Saini Bhawan Managing Committee.