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BJP-run VMC sends bulldozers to AAP townhall event venue

Terming the move as “political vengeance” by the BJP, AAP party workers obstructed the bulldozers from razing the structure.

AAP workers protest in Vadodara Saturday after the VMC team arrived at Preet party plot. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana)

Four days after Aam Aadmi Party Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held an interaction with parents and teachers at the Preet Party plot in Vadodara, the encroachment removal team of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) reached the venue on Saturday to “demolish” an “illegal construction” on the plot.

Terming the move as “political vengeance” by the BJP, AAP party workers obstructed the bulldozers from razing the structure.


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The VMC claimed that it had served a notice to the owner, Navneet Patel, who had leased the plot to AAP for the town hall event on education. At the event, Kejriwal had felicitated Patel for the “courage and honesty” for allowing AAP to hold the event at his venue after 13 other bookings had been cancelled at the behest of the BJP, AAP had alleged.

After the protest from AAP and an altercation with the owners, the VMC handed over a notice, dated September 22, 2022, to the owners, directing that the “illegal structure in the parking area”, should be razed immediately.

The VMC has also served the Patel family notices for two other properties named Navneet and Prasang Party Plot, located close by. The notices also state that the sprawling lawn in the premises is “illegal”, and actually only parking space.

AAP workers Saturday laid in front of the bulldozers in support of Patel and chanted anti-BJP slogans.

Viren Rami of AAP Vadodara said, “The BJP had forced 13 other venues to cancel the booking made by AAP for Arvind Kejriwal’s September 20 event. When they realized that Navneet kaka was not willing to back off after leasing it out, they turned vengeful… They have sent bulldozers in the pretext of razing illegal construction without serving notice.”

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According to Patel, the “illegal construction” was temporary toilets made for labourers working on the plot.

Patel told The Sunday Express, “I have constructed a kaccha toilet with just a tin roof and unplastered bricks for the labourers. It is true that I did not take permission for it… We have started bringing it down, but the VMC wanted to arm-twist me because I had not paid heed to their top leaders when they offered me Rs 10 lakh to withdraw my venue from AAP event.”


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Both party plots and the lawns have been preferred for events by all political parties so far.

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“I personally do not manage the bookings but my plot is always booked for political events by all parties… AAP made a booking and paid Rs 2.5 lakh. The BJP, for all these years, has been using my plot for its own events too. They have never paid me even after assuring that they would,” Patel added.

Ronak Patel, Navneet Patel’s son, gave an undertaking to the VMC in writing that the owners would “assess the illegal construction and bring it down”.

Even as the VMC Town Development Officer and Encroachment Removal officer remained unavailable for comments, Mayor Keyur Rokadia took to Twitter and said, “AAP has revealed its true face as it interfered in the work of the Encroachment removal team of the VMC…”

Denying allegations of political vengeance, Mayor Rokadia said, “The fact is that they (Patels) have created lawns in the parking area of the plots and are charging rent for the same. It is illegal. This is not the only drive against encroachment that the VMC has undertaken… In the case of Navneet party plot, the complaint came to the VMC about two weeks back from the adjacent residential colony regarding the illegal construction of the toilets.”

When asked about the timing of the action and the time given to the owners after serving the notice dated September 22, Rokadia said, “When the VMC serves a notice for encroachment removal, the time given is about 24 hours only to remove belongings… After that, the VMC department can arrive and take action.”

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Gujarat AAP unit on Saturday shared a video of its volunteers confronting VMC officials who had reached the party plot with two bulldozers.

Sharing the video, the Delhi chief minister tweeted, “BJP has reached with bulldozers to demolish the property of Navnitbhai who had given us his plot in Vadodara to discuss education. Will this country be run by such goondagardi ? People of Gujarat will give a befitting reply with their votes.”

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Meanwhile, Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party colleague and Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann will be in Gujarat on Sunday to meet sanitation and contractual workers as well as outsourced employees of the state government as part of its campaign for the Assembly polls.

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—with pti

First published on: 24-09-2022 at 08:57:19 pm
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