The tension between the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) and ruling BJP continued, as the civic body’s staff went on a “pen-down” strike against alleged abusive language used by newly elected MLC Pravin Datke against a senior official during a phone call on Monday.
Datke had phoned Assistant Director, Town Planning, Pramod Gawande to ask why he had not made himself present after a BJP corporator had asked him to come and check a stalled road work project. During the call, Datke allegedly abused Gawande leading to a “flash pen-down” strike by NMC staff for the whole day.
Some officials on deputation to the NMC also wrote a letter to principal secretary, urban development department, seeking repatriation to their original department.
A letter by 15 senior officials said, “Today, MLC Pravin Datke abused and threatened Assistant Director, Town Planning Department, Pramod Gawande. This has caused adverse impact on our morale and an atmosphere of fear. Considering the seriousness of the matter and the possibility of future recurrence, we are not willing to work in Nagpur Municipal Corporation. Hence, we are requesting you to kindly repatriate us to original departments.”
Later, Datke admitted to using inappropriate language and even apologised to Gawande but denied that he had used other abusive terms as claimed by Gawande in his statement to the mayor.
“If Gawande has the audio recording of the conversation, he should play it to the media, police, and the NMC commissioner. If his allegation turns out to be true, I am ready to apologise wherever, whenever, and in whatever way he deems fit,” Datke said.
Mayor Sandeep Joshi also apologised saying, “Datke used inappropriate language while talking to Gawande. Datke has since apologised to Gawande. I also apologise to him. Officials should recall their agitation and work for the city’s development.”
“Going on a one-day pen-down strike is fine, but the decision that they won’t participate in meetings with office-bearers is detrimental to the city’s development. The matter should have ended after the apology but with officials stretching it further has created a standoff,” Joshi said.
A senior official, on condition of anonymity, said, “Datke is in the habit of using foul language. Today’s incident was a trigger for pent-up anger.”
The BJP and NMC commissioner Tukaram Mundhe have been at loggerheads. The BJP is looking at the strike as part of it.
“Who is prompting officials to go to the guardian minister and police when Datke and I have already apologised?” Joshi asked.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines