Congress vs Captain in Patiala: Amarinder to mayor’s rescue
Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh reached his New Moti Bagh Palace in Patiala on Thursday to back mayor Sanjiv Bittu against whom a no-confidence motion has been moved by local councillors.
The battle to remove Bittu from the post of mayor has turned into a litmus test for Capt Amarinder Singh.
Bittu is the only elected leader to have stood by Capt Amarinder after he was removed from the chief minister’s post by the Congress, making the trust motion a tug of war between the Congress and the Captain.
The Congress has deputed deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, local bodies minister Brahm Mohindra and rural development minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa for ensuring the removal of Bittu. Mohindra held a meeting with councillors and the district administration.
Nearly a week after 42 of the 60 councillors of the Patiala municipal corporation sent a requisition to him expressing their no-confidence, mayor Bittu decided to hold a general House meeting to prove his majority at 4pm on November 25.
As MLA, Capt can vote in no-trust motion
For the past four days, Captain’s wife and Patiala Congress MP Preneet Kaur has kept nearly 20-odd councillors at her house, to avoid any poaching. Captain, who is also the Patiala MLA, is ex-officio member of the General House and has the right to vote in the no-confidence motion.
A protégé of Captain Amarinder, Bittu has been facing rebellion from fellow councillors over his proximity with the former CM.
Of the 60 seats in the House, 32 are in Captain’s constituency, 26 in local bodies minister Brahm Mohindra’s Patiala (rural) constituency and two in Sanaur.
Two councillors close to Capt Amarinder were picked up by the police when they were headed for voting on Thursday evening. Mayor Bittu alleged that the government was using police force to remove him.
As the Captain floated the Punjab Lok Congress recently, a majority of the councillors decided to remain with the Congress. As Preneet is doing spade work to help Bittu, the Congress has issued a show-cause notice to her for anti-party activities.