With two unopposed victories, the Akali-BJP alliance has made early inroads into this citadel that the Congress has held in the state assembly for more than a decade.
Under the command of Kapurthala district planning committee chairman Sarabjit Singh Makkar, the municipal council election campaign of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is off to a good start, thus, as 27 more seats remain to be taken. His prestige is also at stake in these polls that are a test of his popularity in the region where he lost the 2012 assembly contest as Akali candidate.
Led by high-profile legislator Rana Gurjeet Singh, an attacking politician, the Congress campaign is also intense.
After conceding two seats, the MLA (member of the legislative assembly) has accused the SAD of intimidating the rival candidates into withdrawing from the race. “An insecure Makkar is terrorising people for votes and forcing our nominees to pull out,” said the Congress leader.
Sarabjit Singh Makkar denied the allegations, and said the Congress leaders were now afraid of losing. “One of their nomination papers was not filed properly and the other was withdrawn by will,” he said, adding: “Rana Gurjeet has done nothing for the welfare of Kapurthala’s people since being first elected in 2002.”
Both Makkar and Rana Gurjeet look strong; but development has weakened in Kapurthala, where people continue to wait for better sewerage and riddance from stray cattle. The city’s once beautiful parks, Shalimar, Kemra, and Tikona, now are neglected.
Former councillor Manmo-han Singh Walia, SAD nominee from Ward 4, has promised voters solutions to these problems. “My first priority will be to bring sewerage connection to the new colonies and water supply to my ward,” he said.
Kapurthala’s sewerage system dates back to its princely state days, and now gets choked even after a brief spell of rainfall. The accumulated water is cleared manually.
In maharaja’s times, Kapurthala had 24-hour running water. For the past five years, the short supply is reduced to almost a trickle.
The city’s once beautiful parks are dying for want of maintenance. The historical Shalimar Bagh is the worst neglected. Residents have to do all the upkeep of thelocality parks.
Even though the city has a cattle pound, stray cattle are a common sight, causing accidents on DC Office Road, Circular Road, and bus stand road. MC executive officer Paramjit Singh said: “We are also trying to keep the stray cattle at the pound run with the help of a local NGO.”
Number of seats: 29
Total number of registered voters: 66,515
Male voters: 34,510
Female voters: 32,005
Wards reserved for SC candidates: 7(including two for SC women)
Wards reserved for women: 10(including 2 for SC women)
Candidates in the fray: 69
Anticipated Seat scenario
SAD-BJP to contest all 29 seats
BJP to contest 13 seats on its party symbol
Congress to contest 27 seats
Last election results
Total wards: 27
SAD-BJP: 18 (with support from anindependent councillor, later)
Rs 18.54 crore: Amount allocated for development works.
80: Percentage of total budget spent on the constituency.
60: Percentage of works completed.
Rs 1.12 crore: Expected revenue from property tax during the year 2014-15.
Maintenance of parks
Non-functional street lights
I don’t have any expectations from the leaders, as after making big promises, they do nothing for public welfare. If my new councillor is genuine worker, I’d just want him to maintain cleanliness in his ward. Surinder Kumar, businessman.
Kapurthala, once a princely state in British India, now is filled with garbage because of the apathy of its municipal authorities, I want my municipal council to revive the lost heritage of this town. Archana Garg, college principal.
I wish that the new councillors who’d be elected ensured proper cleanliness in the town and timely clearing of garbage from the streets. Kapurthala needs to be greener with more trees planted. Harjit Singh, retired govt employee.
As a first-time voter, I will pick a candidate who is attached to his Kapurthala roots and keen to work faithfully for the development of the town and the welfare of the masses. Lovepreet Kaur, first-time voter.