Opposition says AAP taking over Mohali civic bodies, party denies

A spate of resignations from top municipal posts, coupled with mass migration of councillors from various parties to the AAP has set tongues wagging in the ranks of the Opposition, which claims that Punjab’s ruling party is trying to take over all civic bodies in Mohali.

The Opposition, in targeted barbs, has stated that on one hand AAP has been talking about ‘Operation Lotus’, while on the other it has been trying to capture the civic bodies in Mohali.

BJP’s Balbir Singh Sidhu, a former Punjab Cabinet minister, on Tuesday said that AAP should clarify that why they accepted the recent enrolment of 15 Opposition councillors into their party folds in Kharar. “All I can say is that the AAP is pressuring the civic body chiefs to resign,” Sidhu alleged.

Balbir, who along with his brother Amarjeet Sidhu, earlier this year had switched over to the BJP from the Congress, said that the AAP was trying to overthrow representatives elected by the people of the district. Amarjeet Sidhu is the current Mohali civic body Mayor.

The Shiromani Akali Dal’s Kharar in-charge, Ranjeet Singh Gill, in turn alleged that some of his party councillors had told him that they were being pressured to join the AAP. He added that the government must allow the civic bodies to function smoothly to expedite development of the city.

On Monday, amid murmurs of a rift among Congress’ ranks, Dera Bassi MC president, Ranjeet Singh Reddy had quit from his post after many councillors had expressed their alleged reluctance to work with him. 

Reddy, a close confidant of Dera Bassi Congress leader Deepinder Singh Dhillon, had been elected as the MC president on April 9 last year. The Congress had won 14 out of the 19 seats in the civic polls last year.

Elsewhere, in Kharar, a total of 15 councillors — from the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal, as well as some Independents — had on Friday last week switched over to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), triggering a change in the leadership of the House.

The AAP claimed that five more councillors had given their consent to support the party and they could, too, join them in the coming days, triggering speculations that the Kharar MC president — SAD’s Jaspreet Kaur Longia — may be ousted from his post.

Earlier too, Mohali Mayor Amarjeet Singh Sidhu had been served a showcause notice on September 17 by the Principal Secretary of the Local Bodies Department of Punjab government over an alleged ‘Clash of Interest’ issue. Sidhu had been asked to give his reply within 15 days of receiving the notice.

As per details, some Mohali civic body councillors had lodged a complaint to the Principal Secretary of Local Bodies Department on August 10, alleging that the Mayor had favoured a housing society — Amritpreet Cooperative Society Limited — by awarding tenders worth lakhs for carrying out development works. The councillors in their complaint had alleged that Mayor Sidhu was a member of the governing body of the society. 

On September 9, Lalru MC chief, Bindu Rana, had resigned from her post after the Congress expelled her from the party for anti-party activities.

Contacted, AAP’s Mohali MLA Kulwant Singh refuted allegations of the Opposition and  termed the their allegations as ‘lies’. “Across Punjab, the leaders of Congress were switching over to the AAP. However, nothing of that has happened in Mohali yet,” he said.

He then went on to add that both Balbir and his brother Amarjeet were lying to the people and trying to fool them.

AAP’s Mohali district president Prabhjot Kaur said that ever since their government came to power in Punjab, a number of elected representatives had been approaching them on a daily basis.”The situation is the same in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. People there are trying to connect with us. Arvind Kejriwal’s goal is to connect 130 cr people all across India,” Kaur said.

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