Criticising municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar for calling Rajya Sabha MP and city NCP chief Vandana Chavan “arrogant”, political leaders led by Mayor Prashant Jagtap have urged him to apologise, failing which the bureaucrat himself would be responsible for further situation.
Jagtap, who is also an NCP leader, had convened the meeting of leaders of all political parties in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Wednesday to discuss the issue with them. Leaders of all parties, except BJP, condemned Kumar’s remarks.
Chavan had expressed displeasure over the tourism projects being handled by the civic administration. “It is unfortunate how the tourism projects are being handled. I feel embarrassed to make any more requests. I have given up all. I really wonder how we will realise those dreams we have shown the Punekars,” she wrote to municipal commissioner and former mayor Dattatraya Dhankavade.
In response, the municipal commissioner said, “Thanks for being so uncharitable in your remarks as always.” “Don’t say you gave up on us! The truth is you never believed in us so there is no question of giving up. Have always been ready to engage constructively but have never found that echo from your side. You are the only politician in my entire career who has been so arrogant and unready to engage constructively,” Kumar said, adding he as the municipal commissioner was answerable to citizens and not to some individual’s or party’s agenda agenda. The municipal commissioner said that he always held Chavan in high esteem for the issues she raised. “But the way you raised them. It just tries to make the other feel totally worthless and is demeaning,” he said, adding he would ensure that the tourism project at Nanawada happens and delay in implementation was due to genuine reasons.
In a press statement, the mayor said the remarks by municipal commissioner against a former mayor and legislator, and sitting Rajya Sabha MP are defamatory and cause damage to her image. “The issues raised by Chavan were not personal but was in the interest of development of city which were being raised by all political parties. Already, there is an impression that the municipal commissioner is only focussed on one project,” said Jagtap.
In a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, city Congress general secretary Ramesh Iyer said, “The municipal commissioner while discharging his duty is supposed to take all the sections of society together. His derogatory remark against Vandana Chavan, who is an MP, amounts to breach of protocol and an insult to Punekars. Never in the history of PMC has any municipal commissioner behaved in such a manner casting aspersions against any elected representative.”
He urged the state government to initiate disciplinary action against the municipal commissioner.