A day after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) issued a notice to radio jockey Malishka Mendonsa for reportedly not tackling a mosquito-breeding spot at her Bandra home, the BJP and the opposition parties took on the Shiv Sena-led civic body for “unfairly targeting” her.
Leaders across political parties slammed the civic administration at the standing committee meeting on Wednesday. Mendonsa had recently criticised the civic body for potholes on roads and traffic congestion in a video that went viral on social media.
After this, members of the Yuva Sena had approached Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta with a demand for a defamation suit against her. Corporators from the BJP and opposition parties Wednesday said that the civic body was trying to curb Mendonsa’s freedom of expression by sending her the notice. The notice states that an Aedes mosquito-breeding spot was found in a clay bowl kept under a pot at her home and indoor breeding was also noted in potted plants.
Reacting to this, BJP group leader Manoj Kotak said: “The BMC’s behaviour is childish and stupid and there should be an inquiry against the official who issued this notice.”
BJP corporator Makarand Narwekar claimed that civic officials were adopting the Shiv Sena’s style of hooliganism, with other leaders adding that instead of sending a notice, the BMC should have replied to Mendonsa’s video by improving the condition of the city’s roads.
BJP city president Ashish Shelar even took to Twitter to laud Mendonsa’s efforts in “coming out of her comfort zone and applying her creativity to express Mumbai’s problems”. “Completely unfair that Authorities turn up at @mymalishka’s house and find faults,” one of his tweets read.
The notice was issued to the RJ’s mother, Lily Mendonsa, after a mosquito-breeding site was found at her flat by the insecticide department. Civic officials added that two notices were issued in H West ward and both were from the same building, one to the resident of the first floor and the other to Mendonsa on the sixth floor.
While civic officials insisted that the breeding spots were noticed during a routine survey, opposition parties claimed the administration was taking action against Mendonsa due to the video. Leader of opposition and Congress corporator Ravi Raja alleged that Sharad Ughade, the assistant commissioner of H West ward, was directed to find Mendonsa’s house and send the notice.
“We thank Malishka for making a video which highlights Mumbai’s pathetic condition during monsoon. We live in a democracy where criticism should be taken in a positive manner,” Raja said. Congress Member of Legislative Assembly Nitesh Rane also lent his support to Mendonsa on social media.
The Samajwadi Party, too, spoke out in the RJ’s favour, with the party’s group leader Rais Shaikh even calling for a point of order in which he pointed out the “intolerant behaviour” of BMC officials towards criticism.
Defending the civic administration, corporators from the Shiv Sena pointed out that the notice had been issued to Mendonsa’s mother and even raised allegations about “illegal alterations” made in her house.
Leader of the House and Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav, said: “If she (Mendonsa) had a complaint about roads, she should have sent a letter to the municipal commissioner. How can she blame the BMC for traffic and delay in train schedules when it does not fall under our jurisdiction?”
Officials of the insecticide department said that since January this year till Wednesday, they have issued 9,915 notices of detection of mosquito breeding spots.
According to the procedure, after the notices are issued, a legal case is filed and the judge awards a fine, which can range between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000. Till June 30, there have been 432 such cases and the insecticide department has collected fines worth more than Rs 20 lakh.
Despite several attempts, Mendonsa could not be reached for a comment.