In a development that could escalate infighting within the BJP’s Jalandhar unit ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, former local bodies minister and party’s Jalandhar Central MLA Manoranjan Kaila has submitted a complaint to Vidha Sabha’s MLA Privilege Committee against the Jalandhar municipal corporation commissioner Manpreet Singh Chatwal.
Though Kalia has complained against the IAS officer for disrespecting assembly’s elected representative, the bid seems to be against the proximity mayor Sunil Jyoti has with the municipal commissioner.
Jyoti, who belongs to another faction of the BJP led by chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) KD Bhandari, has always been an eyesore for Kalia for “not paying heed to development in his constituency”.
In his complaint written to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker, Kalia has cited a series of events that occurred on February 21, when an MC team went to remove encroachments in Sudama Market, Jyoti Chowk and Jalandhar city, all falling under the constituency represented by Kalia.
“There was a great tension at the site where the MC team had gone to remove encroachments forcefully. I reached the spot to listen to people’s grievances. I called up the municipal commissioner to come to the site and listen to people, who were co-operating in removing the encroachments,” said Kalia.
“I repeatedly asked the municipal commissioner to come to the site as the tension was escalating. He did not respond and switched off his mobile phone,” said the former minister.
“After I complained to principal secretary, local government, Ashok Gupta, the municipal commissioner turned up very late. I remained there for four hours. Had I not intervened, the use of force by the municipal commissioner would have led to unrest among shopkeepers, which could culminate into a law and order problem,” Kalia further said. It is up to the Vidhan Sabha speaker if he moves the the complaint to the privilege committee. If that happens, the committee might summon Chatwal for clarification on the issue.
Many in the BJP feel that it is a pressure tactic by being used by Kalia to snub the officer so that the latter pays heed to him. But politically, Kalia has played the stroke to hit the other faction of the BJP, who try to corner him on party and administrative issues, they maintain.
“I do not know what complaint Kalia ji has filed. But as far as my experience of working with him (Chatwal) is concerned, he is a thorough gentleman and a visionary officer,” mayor Sunil Jyoti told Hindustan Times, when contacted for his comments.
Chatwal, when contacted, said he would reply to every allegation against him if he is called by the privilege committee. Earlier too, Kalia has been critical of the functioning of the civic body led by his own party.
It is learnt that peeved over the repeated “troubles” created by Kalia, the mayor has also complained against his own party MLA to state BJP chief Kamal Sharma, who was in the city to participate in a party function.