Over a decade after he was appointed the chairman of the District Infrastructure Scheme Advisory (DISHA) Committee, Shiv Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil has been sacked by the central government. He was replaced by BJP leader and Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar.
A three-time MP from Shirur, Adhalrao was appointed the chairman of DISHA in 2007. “Usually, DISHA chairman is the senior-most MP in the district. In 2007, Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi was senior to me. Yet, he asked me to head the committee…,” said the Sena MP.
Adhalrao said legally and procedurally, the appointment of Javadekar could not be challenged as there was a “warrant of precedence” in place, which stipulates that a minister is senior to a Member of Parliament. “Fair enough… but don’t they have a courtesy to inform the senior MP who has been in charge for a decade? They have directly sent the letter to the district collector, who intimated me about my removal,” he said, adding that no reason has been cited for his ouster.
Adhalrao said the “minister has snatched powers” from an ordinary MP, which does not “befit his stature”. “Why has action been taken only against me? Why not against other Shiv Sena MPs in other districts? The action of removal or change has been effected only in Pune. It has not happened in Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s constituency, where a Sena MP was heading the DISHA committee…” he said.
One of the reasons, said Adhalrao, probably was that the DISHA committee during his tenure had passed a resolution seeking a probe by the central government in the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) by the BJP-ruled Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. “The DISHA committee passed a resolution seeking a probe into alleged irregularities in the tender process of PMAY in Pimpri-Chinchwad. It seems that BJP leaders in Pimpri-Chinchwad must have complained to the state government, which in turn complained to the central government. It could be one of the reasons, but I have no idea. They have removed me without giving a valid reason,” he said.
BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar said it was wrong to blame them for Adhalrao’s ouster. “We have made no complaints against him,” he said.
Adhalrao said he was the only chairman of a DISHA committee in Maharashtra who had been holding meetings for six-seven hours to discuss the implementation of 23 central government schemes in the district. “Our committee has been meticulously monitoring central government schemes. We have been discussing effective implementation of the schemes at every meeting,” he said.
Adhalrao said the central government’s move has angered Sena MPs. “A delegation of Shiv Sena MPs on Monday met Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and expressed their disappointment with the government decision,” he said.
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram confirmed that he had received a letter from the central government regarding appointment of Union Minister Prakash Javadekar as the chairman of DISHA committee.
Meanwhile, NCP’s Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, Vandana Chavan, said despite being a MP for six years, she was never invited for DISHA committee meetings. “DISHA committees are supposed to be for MPs and MLAs of a particular district. But they have not invited me even once in six years. Earlier, it seemed the meetings were only for BJP and Sena MPs. And now it seems the meetings are going to be for BJP MPs only,” she said. The district collector, however, said he was not aware of the issue and would check with the project director about Chavan’s complaint.
A Sena leader said the Centre has deliberately tried to show the Sena and its MP in a poor light. “We will hit back during the election. The BJP MPs will have to bear the brunt of this humiliation,” said the Sena leader.
Sena leaders said Javadekar was more of a “Delhiite than a Puneite”. “…Will he find time to attend DISHA committee meetings and play an effective role like Adhalrao?” asked the Sena leader.
Disha committees, formerly known as District Vigilance and Monitoring Committees, were set in 2006 at district levels. The committees were expected to monitor 23 central government flagship schemes such as Digital India and Swachh Bharat.