In a significant development on Monday, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel appointed seven chairpersons, two vice-chairpersons and 31 members on different boards and corporations.
Some of the significant appointees include Bhupendra Patel — the former Standing Committee chairperson of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) — as the chairperson of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA), Dhansukh Bhanderi from Rajkot as chairperson of Gujarat Municipal Finance Board (GMFB) and Chaitanya Shambhuprasad Maharaj as vice chairperson of Gujarat Gau-Seva Ayog.
An official release in this regard said that with the latest appointments, the number of such appointments made by Patel to boards, corporations and other public ventures of the state government has reached 171.
Bhupendra Patel is considered close to the CM who had earlier also held the post of president of Memnagar Nagarpalika that was once under the AUDA.
Chaitanya Shambhuprasad Maharaj joined the BJP recently during the party’s nation-wide enrolment drive. And he was named by the party as one of the ‘celebrity’ personalities who had joined BJP.
Dhansukh Bhanderi from Rajkot has been appointed as the chairperson of GMFB; he has replaced Vijay Rupani who was recently elected as the MLA from Rajkot (West) and later given a cabinet berth in the state ministry. Bhanderi is former Mayor of Rajkot and has also held the post of president of Rajkot City BJP unit. A Leuva Patel, Bhanderi is also in-charge of Jamnagar district for the BJP party.
Meanwhile, Pankaj Bhatt from Rajkot has been appointed as the vice chairperson of Gujarat State Sangeet-Natak Academy (GSSNA).
Among the 31 members appointed to different boards and corporations, noted folk singer Farida Mir has been appointed to GSSNA. Mir is also one of the ‘celebrities’ who had joined BJP some time back. Recently, rumors also spread about Mir converting to Hinduism during VHP’s ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaign. She refuted the same and calling the claims baseless. In the GSSNA, Mir is also joined by Hitesh Kanodia, son of noted Gujarati film star and former BJP MLA, Naresh Kanodia, and noted folk artist from Gondal Sairam Dave. Hitesh, also a Gujarati film star, had also contested from Kadi assembly constituency in the 2012 assembly elections, but lost to Congress candidate Ramesh Chavda by a thin margin.
Others appointed chairpersons of board/corporations include Ramila Bara from Sabarkantha to Gujarat Tribal Development Corporation, Kuber Dindor from Panchmahals to Gujarat State Forest Development Corporation, Nirav Bhadariya from Kutch to Anjar Area Development Authority, Meena Pandya from Panchmahals to Gujarat Women Economic Development Corporation and Dilip Chudasama from Jamnagar to Jamnagar Area Development Authority.
Apart from GSSNA, members were also appointed to Gujarat Backward Classes Development Corporation, Gujarat Women Economic Development Corporation, AUDA and Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation.
The corporation’s own inquiry, which was conducted on the mayor’s orders, has claimed that the selection of the travel agency was “done in a transparent manner’’ in the presence of all councillors and that the officers did not know about Sood’s relations with the travel agency’s owners.
In his letter, the mayor said that he, as also the councillors, had no financial powers and it was the sole responsibility of the officers to call quotations or tender to make arrangement for the study tour and check the modalities. But the corporation’s inquiry report did not explain how the selection was done.
He added, “The report mentioned… in the end of the last paragraph that a detailed note was sent to the mayor for approval regarding the selection of the agency. The office of the mayor did not receive any such note for selecting the agency for approval and details of persons going on study tour as well as expenditure incurred on the study tour.’’
Further, the mayor said that, on December 22, he had written to the Municipal Commissioner, asking for the file of the study tour for his perusal, but this was not sent to him, “which shows the doubtful integrity of the concerned officers’’.
“I, therefore, propose that the matter may be got inquired and responsibility fixed against the officers who allotted the contract to the travel agency without following the proper procedure,” he stated.
Kalyan said that all arrangements for the study tour and the selection of the travel agency were dealt with by the office of Rajiv Gupta, Joint Municipal Commissioner.
Incidentally, Gupta, who is a Punjab Civil Service officer on deputation to the municipal corporation, was among the officials who were part of the study tour.
As first reported by Newsline on December 12, the contract of the study tour was given to the travel agency Konasth e-Services Limited, whose owners Sanjeev Sood and Sahil Vaid are brother-in-law and nephew respectively of Arun Sood. No tenders were invited.
Nineteen councillors, including the mayor, and six officials had visited Chennai, Port Blair and Kolkata from August 31 to September 9, ostensibly to study development works. The councillors took along 13 relatives, virtually turning it into a fun trip. The team visited Tirupati, which was not on the itinerary, and spent three days on the Havelock Island.
However, the councillors have neither paid for these fun trips nor the expenses incurred on their relatives. The corporation spent Rs 27.8 lakh on the trip.
Anandiben visits Mahatma Mandir to inspect PBD preparations
In the run up to the upcoming Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) celebration in the state, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel on Monday visited Mahatma Mandir — venue of the programme — and inspected the preparations there. The CM was joined by Cabinet Minister Saurabh Patel and senior bureaucrats.
An official release said that after the inspection, the CM also gave certain suggestions to the officials. Gujarat is hosting PBD celebration between January 7 and 9 for the first time. PBD is being celebrated to mark the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa.
The PBD celebration function is going to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which he is also scheduled to inaugurate a Dandi Kutir at Mahatma Mandir, the release added. It also said that in Dandi Kutir life of Mahatma Gandhi has been depicted in three sections. The first section will be depicting Gandhi’s life from childhood to youth. The second section will cover Gandhi’s visits to England & Africa and his experiences as Barrister. Whereas, the third section will be having details on Gandhi’s non-violent fight for freedom against the British rule.
A lot of modern technologies have been deployed in the construction of Dandi Kutir, the release added.