Not battle-ready, Captain govt defers civic polls in Punjab
Elections will be held before December as govt wants to go to polls after showing some work on the ground, says Sidhupunjab Updated: Jul 03, 2017 09:16 IST
The Congress government in Punjab has decided to defer elections to four municipal corporations and 32 municipal councils and nagar parishads scheduled this year.
Announcing this at a press conference, Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said urban voters had brought the Congress to power and the government would like to show some work on the ground before the civic polls.
Flanked by Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, Sidhu, who had earlier said the civic polls will be held in August, refused to commit a date for the elections.
“All I can say is that the polls will be held before December. The issue is not the date of the elections but honouring the faith of people whom we had promised development. We are not like the previous government that won elections by arm-twisting people. We want to set an agenda and a timeframe to complete it. The CM will announce the agenda in the four corporations soon,” he said.
The announcement to defer polls came after Sidhu and Jakhar held a meeting with party MLAs of the four corporations — Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar. The MLAs cited poor civic conditions in the cities, such as no streetlights, contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation.
On whether MLAs wanted the polls to be deferred, Sidhu said they wanted that the pending works should be completed. “It will be difficult to hold elections during monsoon. We are not in any hurry and want to be more sure-footed before the election. We have set some short and long-term goals and we want to show that we are working on them,” he added.
The minister cited e-governance for services such as payment of property tax and approval of design of houses and no change of land use (CLUs) among the initiatives the government wants to usher in.
Sidhu, who had claimed in the Punjab assembly during recent budget session that the previous government had allotted tenders for development works worth ₹800 crore to single bidders in two-three cities, said they are trying to find an auditor who can nail the SAD-BJP government for “squandering” state’s wealth.
The term of four municipal corporations — Patiala, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar — expires in September. There are 32 municipal councils and nagar panchayats where elections are due in June, July and August.
The two elections will be clubbed and the government will appoint administrators to take over the functioning of these local bodies after expiry of their term till a new House is constituted.