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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Nothing to write home about, says Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary

Even as he has little to show as his achievement, Jalandhar MP Chaudhary is under fire for focusing on just Phillaur being nurtured by his son Vikram as his political playfield

people Updated: Mar 11, 2019 11:10 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary
Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary(HT)

Even as Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary does not have any ‘big project’ that he can take credit for since “he belonged to the opposition Congress”, he is confident of defending his seat.

It was during his tenure as an MP that Doaba got its first ever domestic airport at Adampur in Jalandhar district, which fulfilled long pending demand of the masses from the region considered hub of NRIs. However, the local business community gives credit for this project to the “special efforts” put in by Union minister of state and Hoshiarpur MP Vijay Sampla, who vigorously took up the issue at the Centre. However, Chaudhary did raise the issue at different levels and so did Sampla.

Giving wings to son’s political career

In distribution of MPLAD funds as well, Santokh remained arbitrary and his focus was Phillaur assembly constituency which is being nurtured by his son and former Punjab Youth Congress president Vikram Chaudhary. The MP spent nearly 24% of his total MPLAD fund and much time in the constituency he had represented.

Within Congress too, the MP, otherwise famous for his sober and humble approach, is facing resentment as workers say he takes suggestions from his son and deals with them accordingly.

Didn’t walk the talk

Jalandhar City was included in the Smart City project during his tenure, something which the MP can boast of, but not a single penny has been spent on the scheme. Even the condition of roads has worsened. The MP, however, says he cannot be blamed as Smart City projects were delayed throughout the country.

The Rama Mandi flyover being built on Amritsar-Panipat highway remains incomplete despite some serious and earnest efforts put in by Chaudhary, who raised the issue in the Parliament as well.

Chaudhary also failed to develop Ganna village in Phillaur, which he had adopted under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) launched by PM Narendra Modi. Ganna village is infamous for drug peddling and crimes in Doaba region and Chaudhary adopted it promising to transform it into a model village, but nothing has been done. “The village was adopted and then forgotten. Some funds were spent in the village in last six months only,” said Surinder Singh, a Ganna resident.

“He has failed as an MP and he spent most of the money in Phillaur, ignoring other areas. He got active in the constituency four months back. His focus has been giving wings to his son’s political career and ignored all other leaders,” said a Congress MLA, who wished not to be named.

Akali Dal MLA from Adampur Pawan Tinu, who had contested unsuccessfully against the MP in 2014, says Chaudhary has failed miserably to raise pro-people issues as an MP. “Have you ever seen him raising issues in Parliament? He does not have even small projects to take credit for. More surprising is that he is claiming credit for even the routine work done by the state government,” said Tinu.

Jalandhar is known as country’s hub of sports manufacturing and the industry is currently in doldrums. The industry people also accuse the MP of not raising their voice in Parliament.

Political legacy

Santokh, who is one of the senior most Dalit leaders of the Congress party from Doaba region, comes from a high profile political clan as his father late Master Gurbanta Singh was also a minister, his brother late Chaudhary Jagjit Singh was a tall Dalit leader and his nephew, Chaudhary Surinder Singh is MLA from Kartarpur, which falls in Jalandhar Lok Sabha segment.

His wife Karamjit Kaur, a retired education officer, serves as his political manager and enjoys huge respect among the masses.

Interview: ‘Jalandhar never had as active MP as I am’

What do you think is your biggest achievement as an MP?

I was in the opposition. As a lawmaker, I have been vocal on every state and national issue. Opening up of civil airport at Adampur is the biggest thing I could do, along with other works. I have been the most active MP Jalandhar ever had. My day starts with meeting at least 500 people at home.

But some local industrialists and most people give credit of Adampur airport to Union minister Vijay Sampla. Your take.

Actual talks for the civil terminal started after I met Union civil aviation minister and defence minister in this regard. As a Union minister Sampla ji had advantage of raising the same demand at the appropriate levels, but the issue was put into motion by me. I can show you my correspondence with different agencies in this regard.

Completion of Rama Mandi and PAP flyovers is still nowhere near...Smart City project is yet to get funding. What do you have to say?

The work on these flyovers started and paced up on my repeated reminders to the ministries concerned. In Smart City project, Smart Control Centre has already been set-up and work for installing solar lights and setting up roundabouts have already been awarded.

You are accused of spending most of your MPLAD funds in Phillaur constituency from where your son contested unsuccessfully in assembly polls. Why did you ignore other segments?

It’s a wrong propaganda. I have distributed my MPLAD funds rationally among all segments. But, yes, because Phillaur is our native constituency, we make the officials to spend grants properly and immediately. It may appear for people that I am spending more in Phillaur.

Are you contesting again from Jalandhar?

Yes, I have staked claim for the party ticket. I have worked hard for the people of my area and my report card is already before them.

First Published: Mar 02, 2019 10:50 IST

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