He is a first-time councillor and the youngest at 34, but Saurabh Joshi of the BJP already creates the impression of an old hand in Chandigarh’s politics with his firebrand ways and high-decibel debating skills.
His victory from ward 2 — Sectors 12, 14 and 15, and Khuda Lahora — came after a string of defeats in student council elections in Panjab University as a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
But his entry to MC politics was not tough, given his family background — his father Jairam Joshi, who died recently, was president of Chandigarh BJP in the 1990s, while his brother Vineet Joshi is a BJP leader who is assistant media adviser to the government of Punjab.
Also considered close to MP Kirron Kher, Joshi, however, has not managed to live up to expectations of residents.
As a fiery orator who does not shy away from taking jibes at senior councillors, his achievements on the ground are not much to speak of.
He was unable to get the MC to carry out developmental works inside Panjab University, PGIMER and PEC University of Technology despite his promises that garnered him many votes. All these institutes are autonomous bodies where the writ of MC does not run. Joshi’s argument, however, has been junked by the opposition many times. Rivals question how Joshi, a lawyer, could say he did not know this basic fact before making promises.
He is also accused of not developing parks and not carpeting roads in Sector 15, the primary part of his ward.
Like Vineet, who also runs a public relations agency, he is known to send press notes about every move and every issue under the Chandigarh sun, but that means he is no stranger to controversy. In fact, he appears to revel in rows.
On May 24 last year, he brought an empty beer can to the MC House meeting to highlight serving of liquor in community centres; but the stunt was termed ‘in bad taste’ by fellow councillors.
That and other such actions by Joshi are not as spontaneous as they might seem.
This July, he asked residents to vote if he should go on a free study tour of the MC to Mysore, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The idea backfired as other councillors from across the political spectrum accused him of adopting double standards, asking why he had not asked this question when he went to Port Blair and Kolkata in 2013.
His idea, they said, was to paint a holier-than-thou image of himself in the election year.
TOMORROW: PARDEEP CHHABRA, WARD 3