HT Spotlight | UT’s ward 7 councillor: Fiery councillor packed a punch | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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HT Spotlight | UT’s ward 7 councillor: Fiery councillor packed a punch

The firebrand first-time councillor known to fight for women’s causes carried out late-night inspections and grappled with issues that impinged on residents’ lives.

punjab Updated: Oct 12, 2016 12:38 IST
Monica Sharma
Pandit Vinod Sharma
A potholed road n Maloya, Chandigarh. (Anil Dayal/HT Photo)

The firebrand first-time councillor known to fight for women’s causes carried out late-night inspections and grappled with issues that impinged on residents’ lives.

From jumping on to mayor Arun Sood’s car during a protest against the conversion of a green belt into a parking lot in Sector 38 to driving a tractor during a cleanliness drive at Maloya, the media-savvy leader, who remained mayor in 2015, knew when a good photo-op presented itself and milked it to the maximum.

She often led Congress’ protests and would carry out raids at gambling dens at night.

She whacked the husband of a woman after he showed up drunk following the death of their child in a dog attack.

Poonam, active in student politics in college, says she was keen to do social work and voice issues of public interest.

Her brother Pandit Vinod Sharma, an advocate, who remained general secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress, was a pivotal influence.

Following him, Poonam contested college elections and became president of the Khalsa College for Women, Sector 26.

Poonam was not too keen on entering mainstream politics, but family and friends often told her that she was cut out for the field.

In 2000, Poonam contested as an Independent and lost to Heera Negi. She, however, got the highest number of votes for an Independent.

In 2011, Poonam contested on a Congress ticket, but lost to Asha Jaswal of the BJP. She contested the by-poll in 2012, and defeated Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Seema Yadav to make it to the House.

She counts getting approval of insurance cover from the administration for operational staff of electricity department, firemen and sewer men working in the MC as one of her successes.

Her detractors claim sanitation and water supply problems have only been partially addressed.

Stray dog menace has been a source of trouble as well.

Poonam has had her share of controversies. She was accused of constructing a commercial building in Attawa that she owned, without the approval of the building plan from the MC.

She was active in House meetings. As mayor, she conducted House proceedings efficiently.

The Community Centre building in Maloya, Chandigarh. (Anil Dayal/HT Photo)

Heading the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Women, Poonam is a known crusader for more rights to women.

The mother of two is married to Surinderjit Singh, a Punjab government employee.

Hailing from Shimla, Poonam did her education from Chandigarh and earned a law degree after marriage.

After getting her licence in 1999, she has been practising at the district courts in Sector 17.

Residents say low water pressure, poor sanitation and ill-maintained green belts are problems she could not tackle fully.

Maintenance of roads and parking are other pain points for residents.

Poonam says she got constructed a community centre and got the proposal for a 50-bedded hospital cleared from the administration.

She also takes credit for installation of high-mast lights in the area. Shifting of high-tension electricity wires and water and sewage pipes outside houses was also done.

Tomorrow: Ward 8 Arun Sood