BJP’s factionalism came to the fore on Tuesday when all BJP councillors except councillor Mahesh Inder Sidhu boycotted the House meeting, a move that led to the adjournment of the General House.
Sources said that the councillors cornered the mayor because she did not hold a physical meeting like the councillors wanted her to and that the issue of water tariffs was not included in the agenda, despite BJP recommending the same.
The meeting was scheduled to be held at 2 pm through video conference. All five Congress councillors were present virtually, along with SAD councillor Hardeep Singh.
Among the BJP councillors, only Mahesh Inder Singh Sidhu, who is said to be close to Mayor Raj Bala Malik, was present. The others boycotted the meeting. All nine nominated councillors also did not join the meeting.
A statement issued by the BJP State General Secretary, Ramveer Bhatti, said councillors from almost all parties felt that they were unable to put their point across properly due to the virtual meeting. “This is why, all councillors were of the view that a physical meeting should be called in the corporation. Be it the increased water tariff, issues of garbage collectors or anything, councillors were not able to get any specific reply from the officers and for that physical meeting was important. In order to conceal their continuous failure, the officers didn’t want councillors to attend the meeting physically and are trying to stop them from coming to the house,” he further added.
On October 16, BJP Party president Arun Sood called a meeting at the party headquarters Kamalam on the request of the councillors who said that they won’t attend a virtual meeting.
“In this meeting, all councillors decided that the Mayor should be requested that the next House meeting should be held in the corporation house, instead of holding it virtually. The Mayor was apprised about this decision on October 17,” it was stated.
However, on October 18, the councillors received a communique, stating that the meeting on October 20 is through video conferencing. Following this, the councillors met again to decide that the virtual meeting should be replaced by a physical meeting soon.
“The Mayor was made aware of this decision by the Organisation General Secretary and we hoped that the meeting of October 20 will be called in the corporation house as per the councilors’ demand in the interest of the city,” Bhatti said.
However, when they realised that the meeting was going to be held virtually, the councillors decided to boycott it.
Sources said that water committee, headed by BJP councillor Anil Dubey, had recommended to review the decision of hiking water tariffs, which had invited the ire of residents. However, it was not included in the agenda.
Leader of opposition, Devinder Singh Babla, said that the BJP councillors knew that they wouldn’t be able to face Congress. “We were there to protest against the three-fold hike and there have even protests by resident welfare oppositions also. The BJP councillors could not face the embarrassment, which is why they were unable to attend the meeting,” Babla said.
“Moreover, what is the reason behind holding virtual meetings? When all offices are open and meetings are taking place, then why can’t a meeting of the MC General House take place with social distancing norms in place? It is because they know they can’t be questioned properly virtually, that they are conducting virtual meetings,” he added.
Commissioner Municipal Corporation KK Yadav told The Indian Express that the for the quorum a total of nine councillors are required, but only eight were present. This is probably the first time that the meeting was adjourned because quorum could not be completed.
Several agenda in the House
Several agenda were to be taken up in Tuesday’s General House meeting.
These included focus on offering reduction in charges to companies or contractors and imposing user charges on city residents of certain areas for waste collection.
There was no mention about water tariff hike. The water panel had recommended to include the discussion about the same in the agenda as the issue that seen massive amounts of opposition by city residents.
The House also had to discuss extending the contracts to contractors who supply dry fodder and green fodder for stray cattle. The amount at which the same was to be auctioned had been questioned by activists.
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