Known as a Congress citadel that has given the party significant leads in subsequent assembly and parliamentary elections for over two decades, Phillaur town is gearing up for a tough contest between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal with the issue of drugs emerging as a major plank against the ruling dispensation.
Since the Phillaur assembly segment is represented by SAD MLA and chief parliamentary secretary
(CPS) Avinash Chandar whose name was linked to the multi-crore drug scam, the Congress led by Punjab Youth Congress chief and Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary’s son Vikramjit Singh has been taking digs against the Akalis.
After some local leaders — including local money exchanger Chatinder Goyal, alias Seeta Arhitya, Gurmail Singh Bhola and Manjeet Singh Billa — who used to handle Avinash Chandar’s political affairs in Phillaur were interrogated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and police in the drug-scam case, enough fodder is available with the Congress to project the SAD leaders as a “gang of smugglers”.
“If you vote for the SAD-BJP combine, it means you will vote for drug suppliers who will spoil your future generations. It’s not an ordinary poll. Verdict against the SAD will mean that people of this town have rejected Avinash and his drug-smuggling squad,” said Vikramjit Singh in a rally in the town.
Interestingly, Phillaur is the only municipal council in Jalandhar district where the Congress has managed to field candidates from all the wards on party symbol while the SAD chose not to field any on its party symbol.
While the SAD is supporting independent candidates on nine of a total of 13 seats with its campaigning in the town remaining a low-key affair, the BJP has fielded four candidates on party symbol.
On the other hand, SAD leaders are trying to attack the Jalandhar MP as he has also been quizzed by the ED in the drug case but it has failed to show any impact on the electorate since Chaudhary, who has represented the Phillaur segment in the Vidhan Sabha twice, enjoys a clean image among locals here.
During the previous civic body polls, even as the Congress had won six seats, the SAD with only three councillors and support of one BSP councillor and three Independents managed to wrest control of the civic body.
The Punjab Youth Congress president said the election results hold special importance as he is eyeing to contest the next assembly polls as a party candidate from the Phillaur segment after his father became MP from Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat.
The Congress has never lost any election from the town and the party has always won by a margin of more than 3,000 votes every time.
However, the biggest worry for the party is that its rebel candidates are contesting on at least four seats, posing a challenge to its official nominees.
A poor condition of sewerage remains a major problem in the town, as streets get flooded even after a little rainfall. Due to lack of proper equipment, the accumulated water has to be cleared manually.
Commuters have to ride on potholed roads in the town, as the MC has failed to repair or re-carpet roads that cause road mishaps daily.
Stray cattle menace
Even as the town has a gaushala (cow pound), stray cattle are seen roaming everywhere, causing road mishaps every now and then. Stray animals roam on Bus Stand Road, Hanuman Mandir Road and Nakodar Road.
Dysfunctional street lights
Another major problem facing the town is dysfunctional street lights at various points in the town, resulting in the rise in cases of theft and snatching. The MC has failed to repair the lights for months together.
Number of seats: 15
Registered voters: 17, 368
Wards reserved for SC candidates: 7 (3 for women)
Wards reserved for women: 5 (3 for SC)
BJP: 4; SAD not contesting on its symbol from its quota of 9 seats
Last election result
Total wards: 13
Rs 7.37 crore: Total amount allocated for development works
70% expenditure incurred so far
90% works completed till date
Rs 15 lakh: Expected revenue generation from property tax during 2014-2015
Rs 4 lakh: Total property tax collected till now
“As a businessman, I want the new councillor to be cooperative and take a stand if we need any help from him. We want that he should help developing the town.”
Roop Lal, shopkeeper
“I expect from my new councillor that he should ensure cleanliness in the town by improving civic amenities.”
Manvta Kaur, first-time voter
“The town is full of garbage due to apathy of the MC. I want that the new MC should make efforts to give the town a clean look besides planting more trees.”
Sunita Rani, housewife
“I want that our new councillor should improve infrastructure of the town by providing basic civic amenities, including proper water supply, sewerage and street lights.”
Ram Asra, lawyer