Residents of the town have only been dreaming of seeing the Shiv Kumar Batalvi auditorium for more than three decades now. Batala MLA and senior Congress leader Ashwani Sekri said in Batala on Friday that if the government failed to inaugurate the auditorium within 15 days, then he will open the facility to the people on his own.
First envisaged in the 1980s, the auditorium was never given the final touches and inaugurated. Recently, the auditorium’s renovation was completed four months ago but the government has failed to open it for the public.
The auditorium was supposed to be inaugurated by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal but the programme never materialised.
Although the inauguration was scheduled for December 1 but it was again put off. Infighting between the local Akali leaders is being seen as the major reason behind the delay.
It is learnt that political tussle between two senior Akali leaders, Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, who have high political stakes in Batala, is delaying the inauguration.
A meeting of the Shiv Kumar Batalvi Society was held under the chairmanship of Gurdaspur deputy commissioner Abhinav Trikha on November 27, during which former Punjab minister and patron of the society, Sewa Singh Sekhwan, along with other members of the society, decided to organise a function on December 1. Sukhbir was scheduled to open the auditorium and the district administration had drawn up a plan.
Even the lists of persons to whom the mementoes were to be given was also prepared but as soon as Sekhwan left the venue after announcing the entire programme in front of mediapersons, former Qadian MLA amd Batala halqa in-charge, Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, reached the spot along with his supporters and asked the DC to postpone the inauguration ceremony as he will be busy in Gurdaspur during the Sadbhavna rally on December 1.
Agitated over the delay in inauguration of the auditorium, Congress MLA Sekri said, “It is a matter of shame that the government has made a mockery of the entire inauguration issue. The auditorium has been lying completed for the past four months. But no one seems to have a clue as to when the deputy CM will find time to inaugurate it.”
“We have waited enough. I will wait for another 15 days and if the inauguration does not happen, I will go there and inaugurate the auditorium along with my supporters,” he added.
People were being robbed of the chance of using the facility just because of the ego clashes of the Akalis, he said.