In a major clash between councillors and workers from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) —alliance partners in the state government — that started after a meeting of the municipal council was adjourned, a group led by SAD City president Balbir Singh Bittu threw chilli powder at former chief parliamentary secretary and ex-Batala MLA Jagdish Sahni outside his office on Monday.
Previously, Bittu had tried to physically hit Mahajan inside the meeting hall of the House.
Sahni escaped unhurt as he was wearing sunglasses, but two of his supporters bore the brunt of the attack and were rushed to the Batala civil hospital with burnt eyes. They were discharged later in the day.
The ruckus started after council president from the BJP Naresh Mahajan adjourned the House meeting, reportedly without assigning any reason. This infuriated SAD councillors and workers, who raised slogans against the BJP. Six BJP councillors also joined the SAD protest.
Meanwhile, Mahajan — along with his supporters — went to the office of local MLA Sahni, whose office is 50m from the meeting hall of the council.
Executive officer MS Randhawa calmed tempers a bit inside the House, but Akali workers then marched to Sahni’s office and started sloganeering.
When Sahni came out of his office to pacify the Akalis, red chill powder was thrown at his eyes, the BJP workers claimed. Batala SSP Harpreet Singh sent two DSPs to the spot and the crowd was finally dispersed.
When contacted, Bittu claimed that claimed that Mahajan had misbehaved with him when questioned about the adjournment. Later, Sahni, along with other BJP leaders marched to the SSP office, and sought action against Bittu and SAD halqa in-charge Lodhinangal.
“It was only after Lodhinangal’s provocation that Akali workers marched towards my office and attacked me,” he told the SSP, adding that the state BJP leadership had asked him to lodge a written complaint against Akali workers.
No case had been registered yet.
BJP against BJP in Batala council
The six BJP councillors who had joined the Akalis’ protest in the House, and outside, on Monday organised a press conference and accused council president Mahajan — from their own party — of functioning like a dictator and of bias. These councillors led by former MC president Jatinder Kalyan alleged that that they were never consulted during the allotment of civil works.
“Congress councillors are given priority in allotment of works,” Kalyan alleged, adding that against all norms and regulations, Mahajan had passed developmental works worth `20 crore as a table item without getting the approval of the House.
“The matter has been brought to the notice of the state BJP leadership,” he said.