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BJP’s clean sweep in Chandigarh: Mayor Moudgil in the saddle

Ward 22 councillor gets elected as city’s 22nd mayor by securing 22 votes; BJP’s brute majority also bags it other two posts.

punjab Updated: Jan 10, 2018 13:01 IST
Hillary Victor
Hillary Victor
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
BJP’s clean sweep,Chandigarh,Chandigarh mayor
Flanked by newly elected senior deputy mayor Gurpreet Singh Dhillon (left) and BJP leader Satya Pal Jain, mayor Davesh Moudgil taking out a road show after winning the election in Chandigarh on Tuesday. (Keshav Singh/HT)

Davesh Moudgil, 41, two-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillor from ward 22, was elected the city’s 22nd mayor on Tuesday.

Moudgil got 22 votes, while the remaining five went to Congress candidate Devinder Singh Babla.

Mayor’s priorities
  • On financial crunch: ‘I will talk to the Centre for funds besides seeking help from Punjab and Haryana chief ministers. any new levies will be imposed only with the consent of councillors and city residents. Public partnership is must for decision-making.’
  • On water crisis: ‘I will expedite the work on Phases 5 and 6 of the Kajauli waterworks and try my level best to bring in additional 40 MGD water to the city by July this year. Water will be supplied round-the-clock to all residents.’
  • On sanitation: ‘I will review the mechanised sweeping project contracted out to Lion Services for Rs 50 crore a year. I will also seek help from RWAs to raise awareness about waste segregation. MC officers will soon hold camps in sectors.’

Also, first-time BJP councillors Gurpreet Singh Dhillon, 39, (ward 21) and Vinod Aggarwal, 50, (ward 26) were elected senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor, respectively, to make it a clean sweep for the saffron party, which enjoys brute majority in the municipal corporation House.

MP Kirron Kher, being an ex officio member of the MC, was the first to vote, while nominated councillors could not vote this time as their right was struck down by the Punjab and Haryana high court in August 2017.

Work cut out for him

Moudgil takes over the reins of the civic body when it is heading towards a major financial crisis. Left with only Rs 125 crore in fixed deposit, it has to spend around Rs 60 crore every month to pay salaries to employees and meet other expenditure. Generating only Rs 12 crore from own sources every month, it may not be able to meet its expenses in the last month of the fiscal.

The new mayor will also have to work on improving the city’s water supply. The city is short of 29 million gallons per day (MGD) of water, equivalent to 45 lakh litre (2.25-lakh buckets).

Even when plans are finalised, procedural delays or wastage have emerged as major hurdles towards quenching the city’s thirst. Though Moudgil assured that additional water will be provided in June, MC officers say it might take another eight months.

Meanwhile, residents and even councillors are regularly complaining about sanitation condition in the city going from bad to worse. In May last year, even MP Kirron Kher said in the House that the company allocated the work to keep the city clean has completely failed despite being paid Rs 4.5 crore every month.

Even as the civic body started distributing colour-coded dustbins for segregation of waste in June last year, things haven’t changed on the ground.

Also, despite directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Jaypee plant at Dadumajra is processing only a third of the city’s 450-tonne garbage daily. The remaining refuse is being dumped on the ground opposite the plant, as the MC remains a mute spectator.

‘Will take help of ex-MPs’

With his work cut out for him, Moudgil will have to hit the ground running.

After winning the election, the mayor said he will take advise from all former Lok Sabha members from Chandigarh to work for the betterment of the city. “Pawan Kumar Bansal, Satya Pal Jain and Harmohan Dhawan are experienced people. I will take their help too to fulfil the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.

However, Moudgil will also have to work towards keeping his own horde together.

The BJP got a jolt just a week before the election, as outgoing mayor Asha Kumari Jaswal filed her nomination as an Independent. The rift was wide open as at least 10 BJP councillors — belonging to city unit president Sanjay Tandon’s camp — backed her.

Moudgil, who had the backing of Kher besides Jain and Dhawan, was facing a rout, until his apology and party high command’s rap made Jaswal back out just two days before polling.

Even as Tandon and Jain were seen sitting together in the gallery during the voting and later Tandon offered sweets to Moudgil, he and councillors from his camp, including Jaswal and former mayor Arun Sood, left the MC office soon after.

Moudgil will have to take along all these councillors if he wants to have a fruitful one-year tenure.

The BJP has 20 councillors among the 26 elected members, its ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has one and the Congress four besides an Independent councillor.

According to the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act applicable in Chandigarh, the first term of the five-year House is reserved for a woman candidate from general category. The next term — the present — is for any candidate from the general category, the third is reserved for a candidate from the Schedule Castes, while the fourth term is again for a woman candidate from general category. The fifth is reserved for a candidate from general category.

First Published: Jan 10, 2018 12:57 IST