Congress-ruled Mohali MC in turmoil as mayor jumps to BJP
Congress staring at losing mayor’s seat to BJP if party councillors also follow Amarjit Singh Sidhu; district unit president maintains it’s not that easy
Barely a year after the municipal corporation elections in Mohali, the Congress-ruled MC House has been left shaken with mayor Amarjit Singh Sidhu deciding to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In a major jolt to the district Congress, Amarjit, along with his brother, Balbir Sidhu, a former Punjab minister and three-time MLA from Mohali, switched to the saffron fold on Saturday.
With them, three former ministers – Raj Kumar Verka, Gurpreet Singh Kangar and Sundar Sham Arora – also joined hands with the BJP in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah.
Amarjit’s decision to desert the Congress left the party staring at the tough task of keeping its flock together.
So far, the Congress was confidently comfortable with 37 councillors in the MC House of 50. A total of 11 councillors are from the Azad group and two are independents, while the BJP has no seats.
But with no anti-defection law governing the MC, there’s nothing, legally, stopping the Congress councillors from following Amarjit’s lead. And if the majority do move to the BJP, the House will be split and the Congress may end up losing the mayor’s seat.
However, District Mohali Congress Committee president Rishav Jain maintained that it was not that easy, as their house was in order.
“We got the news of Amarjit and Balbir joining the BJP through the media, which was shocking. They should have discussed the move with the party members. But there is no question of councillors moving to the BJP. We will be holding a meeting with the councillors in the beginning of next week and many have already said that they will not leave the Congress. Moreover, the people of Mohali voted for the Congress, not any leader,” said Jain.
On the other hand, Amarjit claimed the BJP will now hold majority in the Mohali MC. “I will be holding a meeting with all Congress councillors and I am hopeful, they will also join the BJP.”
On his decision to switch to the BJP, he said certain issues forced him to take the step.
Deputy mayor Kuljeet Singh Bedi said he will hold discussions with the party workers before taking any decision.
It was in 2010, when Mohali first got a municipal corporation. Its first elections were held in 2015, when current MLA Kulwant Singh became the mayor with the help of the Congress, which has continued to dominate the civic body ever since.
Was sidelined by senior leaders, says Balbir
Balbir Sidhu, who claimed to be a staunch Congressman until not long ago, attributed his switch to being sidelined by the senior Congress leaders.
“The senior leaders of the state unit had been ignoring me. I was dropped from the Punjab cabinet during Charanjit Singh Channi’s regime because I was close to Captain Amarinder Singh. This led to my loss in 2022 assembly elections as well, despite doing maximum development works in Mohali. I will continue to serve the people of the city even with the BJP,” said Balbir .
Balbir’s son, Kanwarbir Singh Ruby Sidhu, who was the president of the District Youth Congress, also moved to the BJP with him.
Congress’ media in-charge Sanjeev Garg said it was the family’s personal choice to join any party.
After joining the Congress in 1994, Balbir worked as the secretary and vice-president of the Punjab Youth Congress. He contested his first assembly elections in 1997, but lost. He contested the elections independently in 2002 as well, but lost again.
Thereon, since 2007, Balbir won the Mohali seat three times in a row, and after the Congress formed the government in 2017, and was also awarded a cabinet berth.
His clout kept increasing under Capt Amarinder’s tutelage and even his brother, Amarjit, managed to get elected as the Mohali mayor in April last year.