Even as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) does not seem to be in a hurry to decide on a new mayor for the Patiala municipal corporation after the last mayor, Jaspal Singh Pardhan, had to resign unceremoniously, the party cannot defer taking a decision indefinitely, as the civic body laws require that a new mayor be elected before March 25 in any case.
As per Section 38 (3) of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act-1976, the corporation is bound to hold the election for a permanent mayor within a month from the date of resignation of the previous one.
“In the occurrence of any casual vacancy in the office of the mayor, senior deputy mayor or deputy mayor, the corporation shall within one month of the occurrence of such vacancy elect one of its members as mayor or senior deputy mayor or deputy mayor, as the case may be, and every person so elected shall hold office for the remainder of his predecessor's term of office,” reads Section 38 (3) of the act.
Corporations' joint commissioner Najar Singh said Jaspal Pardhan had resigned on February 25; thus the election has to be conducted on or before March 25.
Already, senior deputy mayor Jagdish Rai Chaudhary is officiating as mayor. He will chair the meeting of the general body of the house on Monday.
Meanwhile, intense lobbying has started among SAD councillors to capture the mayoral post. As the Badals will have the last word in the matter, claimants have started seeking appointments with their mentors within the party high command.
At present, former mayor Ajit Pal Singh Kohli is considered the front-runner for the post as he enjoys the support of the maximum number of councilors. Of the 33 SAD councillors, he enjoys the support of at least ten.
In a factionalism ridden house, the group led by cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra also commands the support of a good number of councilors; this camp was given preference in the last mayoral election, as Pardhan belonged to this group.
The third faction, led by Amaninder Bajaj, has at least five members in his group.
“Nobody is bothered about the party. A war to settle personal scores is on among the SAD councillors. First, the Kohli group played their best to wreak Jaspal Pardhan inside and outside the house. Now, the Pardhan group does not want Kohli as the mayor and is planning to submit the list of controversies related to his first innings as mayor to the high command,” disclosed a senior SAD leader from the city.
SAD incharge for Patiala and education minister Sikander Singh Maluka said party chief Sukhbir Badal was personally taking feedbacks from his own sources in the city and would soon take a decision.