‘Leakages’ in use of BMC funds: Chavan

Prithviraj Chavan launched an onslaught on the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party combine that has ruled the country’s most powerful municipal corporation for over 15 years.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai | Published: February 4, 2012 3:18 am

‘Controlling civic body jointly better than sitting in Opposition’: CM bats for Congress-NCP combine,promises better governance

Readying to lead an upbeat Congress-NCP alliance in what appears to be its best chance at assuming control of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC),Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan launched an onslaught on the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party combine that has ruled the country’s most powerful municipal corporation for over 15 years.

In an informal chat with reporters on Friday,Chavan said there were “significant leakages” in the way the BMC’s funds are used,in its tendering process and its cost overruns.

The Congress-NCP’s main platform while seeking Mumbai’s mandate would be the ability to provide civic governance minus the friction between the BMC and the state government that has been a constant in the past years,he said. “If we run the state government and the BMC,there will be no face-off on who gets credit,there will be better coordination with our corporators and we will be able to provide effective governance,” Chavan said.

Playing down the visible friction within the Congress in Mumbai amid allegations by Members of Parliament against Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh,Chavan said there is a somewhat exaggerated view of the rebels in the party.

“Some of them were told to file nominations until the party decided who would be given the B-Form. Of 169 seats we are contesting,there is a real dispute only on three seats. The allegations of monetary considerations were made by a single man.

The process has actually been extremely transparent.” He admitted that MP Priya Dutt and Guardian Minister for the suburbs Naseem Khan had raised issues regarding ticket allocation for certain wards,but added these were complex decisions given that the seats are in Singh’s constituency.

While the Congress still appears to be the worst hit by party rebels filing their nominations as independent candidates and various units including the Youth Congress,the minorities cell and the OBC cell reportedly unhappy with seat allocation,Chavan rejected the contention that there was widespread disgruntlement. He,however,admitted that senior leaders had been eventually left no choice but to give in on the issue of handing out tickets to as many as six sitting legislators’ kin but said these candidates certainly had elective merit.

While the Chief Minister has shortlisted three focus areas – housing,transportation and drinking water – to be addressed during campaigning,he responded to queries on the repeated assurances of extending the cutoff date for protected shanties from January 1,1995 to January 1,2000 by saying the government would have to wait for permission from the court.

Chavan,who has spoken candidly about the challenges of running a coalition government with an aggressive partner,said he expects the two parties to sort out any differences once voted into the BMC. “Yes there are problems in running a coalition,but it’s better to be controlling the BMC jointly than to be sitting in the Opposition,” he said. On some Congress leaders’ opinion that following the formation of a prepoll alliance,the party’s performance could exceed all expectations and enable the party to assume control of the corporation on its own,without the NCP’s support,Chavan said that was merely “wishful thinking”.

Congress Vs NCP

With coalition partners Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party contesting against each other in the Zilla Parishad elections,the Chief Minister admitted there has been a tendency for senior state-level leaders of either party to make personalised comments about leaders from the opposite party during campaigning and speeches. Referring to the ongoing war of words between senior Cabinet colleagues Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Home Minister R R Patil on one side and Industries Minister Narayan Rane on the other,Chavan said once personal attacks begin,there is often no end to it.

“Especially in a rural setting,policy decisions and development programmes are planned and implemented by the state government,which is being run by both parties together. It becomes quite difficult then for state leaders to travel to districts and deliver campaign speeches,” he said. Explaining that party workers expect leaders’ speeches to boost their morale and therefore some aggression in speeches is unavoidable,he said,“There is a temptation to attack one another’s portfolios or departments.”

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