During the past few weeks a number of MLAs and Ministers from Punjab have been visiting the United States and Canada. It gives them an opportunity to meet with their friends, relatives and members of the Punjabi community. At the same time, it is also a welcome change for these public figures to see for themselves as to how things are in these countries. In this context, it was a pleasure for me to meet our area’s MLA, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, who was elected as MLA for the Nakodar constituency in 2012. This was a new constituency carved out of the former Nurmahal and neighbouring constituency. This constituency was a stronghold of former Congress MLA and Minister Amarjit Singh Samra. Samra was quite popular in the area and had won this riding several times. Thus, it was a complete surprise when Gurpartap Singh Wadala won over Samra with 8,700 votes.
Like other members of the Badal government, Mr. Wadala also got an opportunity to Canada and the United States recently. While in the Metro Vancouver area, he was welcomed by his relatives, friends, members of his constituency and other well -wishers. During his busy schedule, Mr. Wadala paid a visit to India Cultural Centre of Canada’s Gurdwara Nanak Niwas, Richmond on July 27. He was very impressed with the warm welcome and thanked the organizers for honouring him with a Saropa by Asa Singh Johal, Chairman and the management committee of the Gurdwara. It was a very cordial atmosphere. Wadala gave a brief account of the developments taking place in Punjab. Rather than being defensive about the situation in the Punjab, he was upfront and candid. Wadala acknowledged the challenges facing the people and government of the state. At the same time, he assured his hosts that everything was being done to address issues facing the people of Punjab. He expressed strong confidence in the people and government of Punjab in tackling the challenges they are facing. At the same time, Wadala urged Punjabis to be proud of their heritage and help their motherland as much as possible.
I have had the privilege of meeting with and speaking with Mr. Wadala on a number of occasions. He comes across as a very well informed, dedicated, sincere and articulate person. Gurpartap learned politics at the feet of his father, veteran and respected Akali party leader Mr. Kuldip Singh Wadala. Gurpartap was elected Sarpanch of his village Wadala (Jalandhar) unanimously at a relatively young age. That was the beginning of his political career. Soon after that, he was elected to the Block Samty. It wasn’t long before Gurpartap became General Secretary of the Youth Wing of the Akali Dal, the party of his father. When the provincial election came around in 2012, Gurpartap was the natural choice of the Akali Dal party’s leadership. He went head to head with a very seasoned and popular politician and Congress party candidate Amarjit Singh Samra. His victory over Samra was a big surprise for a lot of people.
Since his election to the Punjab Legislative Assembly, Gurpartap Singh Wadala has been working tirelessly in serving his constituents. His constituency is fairly large and diverse. It has 165 villages and close to 200,000 voters including three main centres-Bilga, Nakodar and Nurmahal. So are the issues and problems. Gurpartap received his degree in engineering from Guru Nanak Engineering College, Ludhiana. Thus, his engineering background is very helpful to Gurpartap in looking at issues from a different angle. His relaxed, friendly and respectful approach to people and issues has earned him the respect and admiration of his friends and foes alike.
Last year, while visiting India I had an opportunity to talk to a lot of people about politics and politicians. During my stay at my ancestral village Pharwala, which is at the north end of Gurpartap’s Nakodar constituency, I would often hear about his keen interest and commitment in improving the condition of his constituents. One day, prior to his visit to my village, the village Panchayat and organizers of his visit approached me to welcome him to the village and bring to his attention some of the proposals for village improvement. I was very impressed with the way Gurpartap handled the situation and made a commitment to get things done. He came through and earned the respect of his constituents. This was just one example. I heard similar stories from a number of others in and outside his constituency. Similarly, during his recent visit to Canada Gurpartap‘s interaction with the Indian diaspora and the media was commendable and earned him a lot of respect and regard.
Gurpartap Singh Wadala brings a new perspective to politics. Punjab needs more people like him to serve the public sincerely and honestly.
Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.