Of the 129 civic bodies in Punjab that would go to polls in two phases on February 20 and 25, the municipal councils of Bhikhiwind and Fatehgarh Churian still awaits clearance for delimitation or redrawing of wards from the local bodies department. It is learnt that the delay is at the behest of local bodies minister and BJP leader Anil Joshi, even as there is hardly a month and a half to go for the voting.
Earlier, the department had said that delimitation of the corporations would be complete by December 19; and of councils and notified area committees by December 29. The process began six months ago, and the state election commission needs around two months after the delimitation to prepare.
Sources said the exercise for Bhikhiwind had been was finalised, but the minister stalled it on January 7, the day he received a representation against the process. The representation points that the some of the wards had been reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates on false grounds as these did not fulfil population norms.
Now, reports have claimed, Joshi has even asked the department officials to postpone the polls in Bhikhiwind — 20 km from the minister’s hometown Tarn Taran — in case the process of delimitation is not completed. Joshi remained unavailable for comment despite several attempts.
Director, local bodies, Priyank Bharti told HT that upon the minister’s directions he had sought a report from the field by Sunday and would act accordingly.
As for Fatehgarh Churian, sources said four different maps of the council had been prepared but so far none had got approval, allegedly because local leaders of the ruling SAD and the BJP are pitted against each other over the issue. “There is nobody to listen to us when the coalition partners of the government have differences,” Fatehgarh Churian’s Congress MLA Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said. “The Congress is nowhere in the picture. Once notification of delimitation was carried out, it required a proper procedure to cancel and carry out the delimitation again. But maps have been repeatedly changed,” added Bajwa.
Punjab has 168 civic bodies in all. The 129 due for polls include six municipal corporations.