Municipal commissioner Pradeep Aggarwal stirred up a hornet’s nest when he asked security personnel to remove a group of independent councillors at the sangat darshan which was organised at the municipal corporation (MC)’s Zone-A office on Tuesday.
These councillors from ward numbers 24, 32, 33, 37, 38 and 40 had come to the sangat darshan to raise problems of their wards. Councillors included Anita Kharbanda, Jasbir Singh Jassa, Gurpreet Singh Khurana, Raghubir Singh Beera among others, who also alleged that the MC commissioner used foul language while talking to them.
The sangat darshan started around 10am and the proceedings were going on smoothly. At 11.30am, a group of councillors came to the commissioner, who was flanked by MC’s additional commissioner Neeru Katyal, at the dice in the meeting hall and started raising the issue of broken roads, sewerage and other problems of their wards.
On hearing this, the commissioner asked them to come to meet them on a later date as the sangat darshan was meant to redress the problems of the general masses. However, the councillors did not adhere to the pleas of the commissioner and demanded that action should be taken on their issues immediately. The commissioner got infuriated on this and asked them to go away.
Anita Kharbanda, councillor from ward number 32, alleged that the commissioner even used foul language while asking the security personnel to remove them from the meeting hall. “It is a shame that an IAS officer sitting on such a high position does not even know how to talk to the elected councillors,” added Kharbanda.
She said the councillors had gone to the commissioner with the complaints of residents. “I recommend that a mental check-up of the commissioner be conducted after which he should be transferred from Ludhiana,” she demanded.
The controversy could also give a bad name to the sangat darshan that was started with much pomp and show to resolve the problems of residents on the spot by the MC commissioner.
Jasbir Singh Jassa, councillor from ward number 40, who had gone to request the commissioner for maintenance work, “It is the right of councillors to meet the commissioner on behalf of residents and lodge complaints. However, the behaviour of MC commissioner was not like a senior official. Using foul language with councillors is not in a good taste.”
However, there are councillors in support of commissioner and want that no one should jump to a conclusion and blame him.
Senior deputy mayor Sunita Aggarwal, a BJP councillor, said an investigation should be held into the incident and only then action should be taken.
Seeing opportunity, the opposition Congress criticised mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria by stating that such a situation would not have evolved had the mayor conducted a House meeting.
Parminder Mehta, spokesperson for the Congress councillors, said so far the mayor had failed to conduct a House meeting where the councillors could raise their grievances.
“The incident was pre-planned as the councillors who themselves are part of the MC tried to incite the commissioner by arguing with him during the sangat darshan,” said Mehta.
Meanwhile, commissioner Pradeep Aggarwal did not respond to the phone calls of HT.
Independent councillors would meet Gohalwaria on Wednesday as he was not in the city.