Before the municipal corporation (MC) elections in SAS Nagar, Kulwant Singh was with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Just before the MC polls, he broke away, led his ‘Azad Group’ to significant numbers, and took oath on August 28, 2015, a mayor with support of the Congress. Before a year in office, he is now back with the SAD. This merry-go-round of the real estate magnate-turned-politician dominated the talk and work of the MC in its first year.
The other thing that stands out is the constant tussle of the mayor and his deputy with the MC commissioner, Uma Shankar Gupta. From war of words, it has now reached a stage where Kulwant is demanding an inquiry into all his decisions. One of the biggest thorns here is property tax, which Kulwant had wanted rolled back.
On the development front, too, the merry-go-round had led to a peculiar situation. As Kulwant was elected with Congress support, the SAD-BJP accused him of ignoring their wards. The 23 SAD-BJP councillors had even approached chief minister Parkash Singh Badal who had made a three-member committee to oversee the development of the wards.
Now, while the Congress members praise Kulwant as he was in alliance with them for the better part of the year, the SAD and BJP councillors criticise him, yet express hope for the future since he’s now back on their side.
To his credit, Kulwant has managed to set the ball rolling for a local bus service, final approval to which is now pending with the SAD-BJP state government. There is also a promise now that annually the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) will pay `50 crore to the MC for development of the city. Much of it is in the realm of the future.
In the present, there is now talk of Kulwant contesting the forthcoming Punjab assembly polls. The 55-year-old moneybags candidate had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on the SAD ticket from Fatehgarh Sahib.
That is not surprising since he is known for frequent shifts in position. An Akali from 2007 to February 2015, he was expelled from the SAD following differences over tickets in the MC polls. Kulwant, of Samana Kalan village in Ropar, is a Class-10 passout and owner of Janta Land Promoters Limited that has a Rs 1,500-crore turnover with business interests in SAS Nagar, besides Ludhiana, Amritsar, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr) and even Himachal Pradesh.