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Saturday, September 18, 2021

‘Double standards’: BJP corporator takes on PCMC, own party after arrest of colleague in ink-throwing incident

The party stood strongly behind standing committee chairman Nitin Landge who was accused of corruption, but is not supporting Asha Shendge who was arrested for allegedly throwing ink on the municipal commissioner's nameplate, said Seema Savale.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: September 13, 2021 7:33:58 am
BJP corporator Asha Shendge was remanded to judicial custody for allegedly throwing ink on the Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal commissioner Rajesh Patil's nameplate. (File photo)

A day after BJP corporator Asha Shendge along with 10 other residents of the city were taken into judicial custody for allegedly throwing ink at the nameplate of the municipal commissioner’s office, another BJP corporator, Seema Savale, has slammed the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) for being “insensitive” towards the plight of the citizens even as she took on her own party for having “double-standards” in the way it deals with different corporators.

Savale said while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stood firmly behind standing committee chairman Nitin Landge, who was arrested last month, it was “refusing to support honest protesters and a corporator who took up their cause”.

The BJP, in response, said it would hold an urgent meeting on the issue on Monday. Municipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil, though, backed the action taken by the civic body, saying “Just because they are corporators, they should not think officials are their servants”.

Shendge and other citizens were taken into police custody on Friday after they threw ink at the nameplate of the civic body chief while protesting against the condition of the roads in Kasarwadi area. They were remanded to judicial custody on Saturday.

Savale, the former standing committee chairperson, told The Indian Express on Sunday: “The Pimpri-Chinchwad BJP unit has adopted double-standards in the way it deals with some party corporators. On the one hand, the party stood strongly behind Landge who was accused of taking bribe. On the other hand, it refused to support honest protesters and a corporator who took up their cause.”

She added: “There is nothing wrong in standing behind a person until proven guilty. The party should have extended the same backing to corporator Shendge and the 10 citizens who were rightly protesting against inconvenience caused to them due to civic body’s digging mission. Their method of protest can be contested, but their grievance cannot be side-tracked.”

Savale said she would raise the issue with BJP’s state chief Chandrakant Patil and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, and during the civic general body meetings.

Savale said despite the kind of allegations Landge faced, the party did not even ask him to resign as the chairman. “Nothing wrong in that. But what wrong has corporator Asha Shendge done ? Nothing. She had merely taken up the cause of aggrieved citizens in her ward. In a democracy, the citizens too have a right to protest,” she said. “The citizens threw the ink on the nameplate of the commissioner and nameplate of another civic officer. The corporator did not…The citizens did this out of frustration as roads in their area were dug up since last year and PCMC had failed to complete the work,” Savale added.

Landge, along with four other employees of the PCMC, were held last month, for allegedly accepting Rs 1.18 lakh in bribe from a contractor. He was released on bail later.

Alleging that the citizens were wrongly charged by the PCMC administration, Savale said, “The citizens, some of whom are housewives, have been charged under Section 353 of IPC for obstructing the government servant. There was no obstruction; the citizens had thrown ink on the nameplate. They should have been detained and let off in the evening. After Landge was arrested, NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) and Sena (Shiv Sena) protested at PCMC headquarters. Why were they not arrested on the charge of obstructing officials from entering the civic office for doing their work?”

Savale also accused the PCMC of violating a high court order. “The court had directed all civic bodies in the state not to dig up roads till October 2. We will be bringing this violation to the notice of the HC.”

Alleging that the PCMC chief had behaved “arrogantly and in an undemocratic manner”, Savale said, “I have written several letters to PCMC commissioner, seeking a hearing on corruption in Smart City projects but he kept postponing the hearing. His action against citizens of Kasarwadi is undemocratic. He should have taken the initiative to resolve their grievances rather than sending them to jail.”

Namdeo Dhake, BJP House leader in PCMC, said, “Shendge protested at commissioner’s office without informing the party. Anyway, we requested the commissioner not to file the police complaint against the citizens, but he refused to listen.”

BJP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit president, MLA Mahesh Landge, said, “The party will hold an urgent meeting on the issue tomorrow after which we will declare our stand.”

Commissioner Patil said, “The corporator had stopped the Smart City projects in her ward by making some verbal complaints. I had told her that the work will be completed in time. However, next day, she came with the ink. I don’t know what she wanted to prove. By stretching her arm, she closed my cabin. I had to go for the video-conferencing of the deputy CM. The corporator obstructed my way; she had no intention of holding discussion with me.”

The commissioner said cable laying working for Smart City projects is underway in the city. “The corporator had stalled the work in her area. Joint city engineer Ashok Bhalkar had met her and promised to complete the work in time…She had insisted that the work should be stopped which was not possible as it was already delayed for long.”

Patil said, “There is some respect to the commissioner’s chair. If a corporator behaves in this fashion with the commissioner, other officials will be terrified. Therefore, the administration filed the police complaint.”

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