Opposition Congress performed pooja of a calf minutes before the bimonthly meeting of general board meeting of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) and then tried to put the calf on the car of BJP leader Kamlesh Mirani on Saturday. At board meeting too, the Congress created ruckus demanding discussion on three deaths this week due to alleged consumption of “contaminated water” in Jungleshwar area of the city.
After argument with security officers, Congress corporators managed to enter the RMC headquarters with calf of a cow at around 10:30 am and started performing its pooja. Meanwhile, Kamlesh Mirani, president of Rajkot city unit of the BJP and a sitting BJP corporator in the RMC came to the headquarters to attend the general board meeting. Congress corporators gheraoed his car and invited him to join the pooja of the cow progeny. When the BJP leader refused to come out, the Congress corporators tried to put the calf on the bonnet of his car. With intervention of the security staff, Mirani managed to find his way and Congress also ended their event.
The general board meeting started minutes later. For initial 10 minutes, the question hour progressed smoothly. However, while the municipal commissioner was replying to a question over seized hand-carts and cabins lying in RMC godown, Congress corporator from Ward 11, Ghanshaymsinh Jadeja requested mayor Jaiman Upadhyay to allow questions on alleged contamination in water in a tubewell in Jungleshwar area and supply of what he claimed unclean water through drinking water supply network of the civic body in the city.
However, the mayor, the presiding officer of the meeting, cited rules of conducting business and refused to entertain request of allowing members to ask questions out of turn. But opposition corporators rose from their seats and started shouting slogans like “Vagar chomase dohlu pani (unclean water before monsoon).”
Leader of opposition, Vashram Sagathiya alleged that RMC was not supplying enough drinking water to city residents. However, BJP corporator Uday Kangad sought to counter the Congress sloganeering stating Aji-dam will soon start getting filled with Narmada water and invited Congress members to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi in welcoming the Narmada water to the dam on 29th of this month. However, congress members changed their slogan to “Pani vagarna Rupani (Rupani without water) and targeted Chief Minister Vijay Rupani who is a resident of Rajkot and also an MLA from the city. In response, BJP corporators also raised slogans of “Narmada ave aji, Saurashtra paani paani (Saurashtra will be flooded when Narmada water reaches Aji dam).
The sloganeering went on for more than half-an-hour and Congress corporators rushed to the chair of the presiding officer. Despite repeated requests form mayor and deputy mayor to go back to their seats, Congress members continued their protest and Sagathiya even poured a glass of water on the floor claiming the water was contaminated which had claimed three lives in Jungleshwar area. With the mayor refusing to take up their questions on water issue, opposition corporators occupied well of the meeting hall and continued their sloganeering.
With neither party abating, the mayor declared question hour over and put other items on the agenda of the meeting on vote. The mayor said votes of only those members sitting on their allotted seats will be counted. But Congress corporators continued to occupy the well and the mayor declared items passed with majority votes.
After the meeting, sagathiya said they wanted to prevent BJP form bragging about cow protection issue. “We knew that the corporators of the ruling party would pat themselves on the back for cow protection law enacted by the state government recently. But the RMC is still not able to locate 292 cows that have been missing from cattle pond of the civic body since 2014. Therefore, we organised pooja of cow at RMC headquarters and invited BJP president to join us but he refused,” said Sagathiya.
The leader of opposition claimed that sewage water had sipped into a tubwewell and Jungleshwar area and 99 people had been taken ill after drawing water from it with the help of a hand-pump over the last one week. He also claimed that three people had died after drinking the contaminated water. “We wanted to discuss this issue but the mayor did not allow. We are also against the RMC sealing 40 tubewells in the area without properly testing quality of their water,” he added.
But Mirani claimed Congress had no right to raise issue of cow protection. “Their workers in Kerala slaughtered cow in public and consumed beef. Members of such party have no right to talk about cow protection,” Mirani told media persons after the meeting.