When Additonal Municipal Commissioner (AMC) Aseem Gupta stepped out from the civic administrations general body meeting for a few minutes,little did he know that pandemonium would break loose in the BMC house. Miffed Opposition members disrupted the meeting demanding more respect for their criticism of the civic budget. In the ensuing 100-minute melee,no fruitful discussion on roads,garbage collection or the water budget was allowed.
On Tuesday,Congress Corporator and leader of the Opposition Dnyanraj Nikam responded to standing committee chairman and Shiv Sena corporator Rahul Shewales budget presented on Monday.
The speech was frequently interrupted by elected civic representatives talking among themselves too loudly forcing Mayor Sunil Prabhu to chasten the councillors to pay attention. To this,a few councillors did not shy from telling Prabhu: First you pay attention then ask us not to talk.
Forty minutes into the meeting,which incidentally started an hour late,AMC Aseem Gupta stepped out leaving Deputy Municipal Commissioner Ramesh Bambale in his seat.
Upset with this act of not lending his ear to the Oppositions stand,MNS party leader Dilip Lande demanded Nikam to stop reading until Gupta returned. The rule of the House is that at least one Additional Municipal Commissioner should be present, he said.
Mayor Sunil Prabhu tried to placate the aggravated Opposition members saying,The AMC has just gone out for some work. He will be back. At this point,party leaders such as Raees Sheikh of the Samajwadi Party,and senior MNS corporator Sandip Deshpande,who till then were absent from the meeting,suddenly joined the rising chorus.
As the Opposition staged a walk out,AMC Aseem Gupta returned to his seat. But this failed to deter the morcha outside the BMC hall.
Marching around the corridor,shouting slogans such as Shame! Shame! and Shiv Sena ki dadagiri nahin chalegi! the group reached Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kuntes office and forced him to come to settle the issue. AMC Mohan Adtani too was roped in to sit in.
In the meantime,Shiv Sena corporator Yamini Jadhav had been reading her budget comments.
Congress corporator Praveen Chheda,however,asked that leader Dnyanraj Nikam be allowed to speak.
Mayor Prabhu refused,saying,Nikam had his chance to speak but he refused to. It is the rule of the house that we continue with the next person thereafter. Every councillor gets one chance to speak on an issue.
The remark was not well-received among opposition members with the house dissolving into 50 minutes of further pandemonium thereafter. Elected civic representatives of the Congress,NCP,SP,and MNS stood up shouting,banging their desks,and refusing to let Jadhav to speak.
When the technicians turned down the volume of the hanging mics,members such as Deshpande and Congress councillor Nosir Mehta,with one eye on the mediapersons present,turned even more aggressive. MNS corporator Chetan Kadham said in protest,This is not the culture of the house Mayor!
While party leaders fought it out on the front line,relatively younger and newer corporators stood at the back giving a much needed boost to the crescendo of hoots – all the while laughing amongst themselves.