INDICATING INTERNAL discord, the ruling Congress in Savarkundla municipality in Amreli district, failed to pass the budget on Monday, with the municipality president levelling allegations of corruption against protesting members of her own party.
The 36-member general board of the Savarkundla municipality met on Monday to discuss the budget. However, six Congress corporators protested when two items relating to the accounts of revenue and expenditure were taken up for discussion. The protesting councillors of the ruling party demanded that first the accounts books be made available to them. The protests led to a commotion even as the budget of the civic body for the year 2018-19 was put to vote. The board unanimously voted against the budget.
“While some members had registered their protest on a couple of other items on the agenda, the budget was disapproved by 36 votes against, versus nil in favour,” Lakha Hun, chief officer of Savarkundla municipality told The Indian Express.
Municipality president Kundan Adhiya, on Tuesday, said, “This group of councillors have been neither working themselves nor allowing others to work for the last six months. They are approaching contractors and demanding bribe to allow them to work. So, I ordered that let the budget be defeated at the general board. It is better to not work than soiling reputation of Congress party.”
She, however, conceded that she had not raised the issue of protests by the group of councillors with party leaders. “The party leaders will have to take action. I will not allow corruption under my watch even if that means letting the municipality being superseded by the government,” she added.
Rules mandate that every municipality in the state has to pass budget for the next financial year before March 31.
The six Congress councillors issued a press release, stating that they were with the Congress and that their protest was against the president’s style of functioning. “How can we support a resolution without having been given the opportunity to study the books of accounts of expenditure and revenue? We have no idea where the money has come from and for what purpose has it been spent. The president’s allegations of us demanding money from contractors is completely baseless. We did meet contractors. But that was after complaints that they were doing metalling (applying gravel) of only two inch instead of the specified six inch thickness in road projects. We demanded that the contractor do the work as per condition,” said Atul Kapadiya, one of the six Congress councillors who protested at the budget meeting.
Congress has 20 members in the 36-member general board of the civic body. The remaining 16 are with the BJP.