It was mayor Subhash Chawla who stole the show from the BJP councillors at the seminar organised by the Gujarat government in Gandhinagar on Thursday. The lone representative of the Congress from the city shared the stage with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who also held a meeting with Chawla along with a handful of other mayors.
The decision to participate in the conclave,Vibrant Gujarat 2013 National Seminar on Inclusive Urban Development,had led to controversy among the Congress councillors when names for the same were being finalised. While initially,the Congress councillors were also to go on the tour,they withdrew their names after getting to know that Modi would be addressing a session.
With senior Congress leaders criticising Modi,the councillors here did not deem it fit to go for a conclave in the state. Chawla in his capacity as the mayor of the city accompanied the six councillors of the BJP on the tour.
At the conclave,Chawla was among 10 mayors out of 137 who were present at the conclave to share the dais with Modi. Later,Chawla was also invited for lunch with Modi along with a handful of mayors. Sources said Modi recalled his days in Chandigarh when he was the incharge. The CM stayed in Chandigarh for six years from 1992 to 1998. He was incharge of the BJP units in Chandigarh,Haryana,Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
Chawla reportedly told Modi that the Congress had been in power in Chandigarh for the past almost 15 years in the MC. Modi said that it was during his tenure as the incharge that the BJP was in power in Chandigarh. The BJP councillors also got a chance to interact with the Chief Minister. On meeting BJP councillor Des Raj Gupta,Modi recalled that Gupta had left the party when he was incharge,much to the councillors discomfort,sources added.
BJP councillor Arun Sood said,The mayor shared the dais with the CM and also interacted with him. During the interaction with the councillors,we informed him how democracy is murdered in Chandigarh MC. Despite the Opposition being in majority after the MC elections,due to the support of the nominated councillors,the Congress is getting its mayors elected. The lack of powers with the mayors was another issue that was raised.
On whether it was appropriate for the mayor to share the dais with Modi,a senior Congress leader said that it depended on the event. If it was an official programme then there was no problem in attending. However,if the programme was organised only to showcase the achievements of the Gujarat government then there was nothing to learn from that state. The talk about development in Gujarat was a myth,he added.
However,local MP Pawan Kumar Bansal said he was not aware of the event,so he could not comment on it. City Congress president B B Bahl said that he would talk to the mayor on his return to know about the event.