Former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) councillor from GTB Nagar, Raja Iqbal Singh, the Mayor of North Delhi began his journey with the Bharatiya Janata Party recently. According to the senior BJP leaders, Singh's elevation to the Mayor's post was seen as a reward for maintaining close ties with the BJP, despite SAD withdrawing its alliance with the NDA in 2021.
“When all other SAD members left the party, Singh was the one who was standing with the party,” a senior BJP leader had said to reporters.
Singh was the SAD councillor from GTB Nagar and chairperson of the corporation’s Civil Lines zone. In September 2020, when the Akalis pulled out of the NDA over the contentious farm laws, Singh decided to stay. However, SAD's Delhi unit asked Singh to resign from his Civil Lines post, but he had reportedly refused.
Singh was also served a notice by the SAD when he refused to resign from the post of Chairperson. Months later, the BJP elevated him to the post of mayor and hereon, Singh's journey with BJP began.
Singh's family has been long related to the Akali Dal. His father-in-law has represented the Jahangirpuri constituency earlier as a councillor and his brother-in-law is actively concerned about Akali politics. According to a BJP person, Sing knows that his fate in politics is more secured with the BJP than with the Akali's, as SAD's politics have gone down in Delhi and most of its leaders have joined the BJP.
After the communal Jahangirpuri conflict throughout the shobha yatra on April 16, Singh came out with no statements.
“This is an anti-encroachment drive… It should not be seen through a religious angle. It’s a drive against encroachments of a temporary nature and we have had a lot of complaints from RWAs and locals,” he stated, On April 20, the morning of the demolition, he supported the drive while on the site of the violence.
Jahangirpuri violence and Mayor on why bulldozers kept moving there
Jahangirpuri in north Delhi had witnessed violent clashes, including stone-pelting, arson, and firing, between two communities during a Hanuman Jayanti procession on Saturday. Eight police personnel and a local resident had sustained injuries.
Also, the demolition drive came in the wake of recent actions taken by authorities in Madhya Pradesh to use bulldozers to raze properties of those accused of rioting during the Ram Navami celebrations.
Shortly after the Supreme Court ordered demolitions to be paused at Delhi's Jahangirpuri, bulldozers kept advancing, tearing down kiosks and shops and even structures outside a mosque. "The work will continue as the order has not reached us," said the BJP-controlled Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) firmly.
Singh told reporters that the authority wants to tell the people of Delhi that wherever there is any illegal encroachment, it should be removed immediately.
By the time the bulldozers stopped, 20 shops and structures outside a mosque had already been razed.
Among the structures that were razed was a permanent shop whose owner said he had the permission of civic authorities.
"Only temporary structures were removed," Iqbal Singh claimed. When asked about the permanent shop, he claimed that "documents would prove everything".
He said today his team removed encroachment by scrap dealers on public land. "The roads will be cleared and people are happy. It is routine work with no agenda. People are very happy, people are supporting us," he said.