The Election Commission’s controversial decision to delay the announcement of poll dates — and thus defer the application of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) — has come in handy to the ruling BJP to push ahead with a string of announcements.
The BJP-ruled Vadodara Municipal Corporation’s standing committee was convened Friday to finalise a mega event for Sunday where Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is expected to inaugurate development works worth Rs 780 crore. It also approved extending free logistical services to Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Diwali event in the city.
On Thursday, the BJP-ruled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, anticipating the MCC, advanced its standing committee meeting by an hour and a half to clear proposals worth Rs 530 crore in just 10 minutes. The Election Commission was expected to simultaneously announce dates for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat elections — as it has done since 1998 with the exception of 2002 when Gujarat polls were advanced — at 4 pm and the AMC standing committee meeting was scheduled for 4.30 pm. The AMC advanced its meeting to 3 pm.
The conduct code delayed, the AMC today concluded the ninth “Shahri Garib Kalyan Mela” in Ahmedabad where of a total 4103 beneficiaries, 3262 were distributed kits including cheques, funds and bonds under the “Manav Garima Yojana”.
These kits distributed included sewing machines, utensils, tri-cycles, dairy products, street-vending carts and other household items. On the first day on Thursday, 580 kits worth Rs 44.42 lakh and cheques and bonds worth Rs 38.35 lakh were distributed; on the second day, 507 people were given kits worth Rs 34.08 lakh and 1161 beneficiaries were distributed cheques and bonds worth Rs 48 lakh.
The cheques included a minimum of Rs 2000 given to school girls as Vidyalakshmi bonds; Rs 5000 to parents with two girls and who have undergone sterilisation; Rs 10,000 as a revolving fund by the AMC’s Urban Community Development department and the highest Rs 50,000 for intercaste marriage.
In Vadodara, too, the VMC Standing Committee met for the second time in the week on Friday clearing 39 projects — eight of which came minutes before it met. On Monday, it cleared 16 of 20 listed projects. Among the total 59 development projects cleared this week are road projects worth Rs 47.50 crore. These include annual contracts for RCC roads across the four zones of the city. A special project includes “beautification” of the road from Kalaghoda area to MS University for Rs 17.92 lakh as well as new cages and veterinary hospital for the animals in Sayajibaug zoo for Rs 6.35 crore.
The big-ticket schemes include Rs 165.75-crore project for providing drinking water to the city from Mahi River at a capacity of 150 million litres per day and beautification of the Sursagar Lake at a cost of Rs 38 crore. Incidentally, beautification of the iconic lake was also undertaken before the 2012 Assembly polls.
The projects also include widening of the Kalaghoda Bridge, a flyover on the Sussen Crossroads, a storm water drain parallel to the national highway on the East zone of the city as well as approval for a budget of Rs 15 lakh to “settle a court case” in the matter of non-payment of electricity dues.
Among the supplementary proposals submitted before the Standing Committee, minutes before it was convened on Friday evening, was a proposal to offer logistical services of VMC to Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living Foundation event “at no cost”.
The event is scheduled to be held on October 19 at Polo Ground in Vadodara. The proposal stated: “The Lakshmi Puja and Satsang event is to be held at Polo ground on October 19 by the Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar. Since it is a religious festival, the Municipal Commissioner seeks power to extend logistical services to the Foundation such as medical assistance, lighting, hoardings, banners and cut outs at no cost.”
Officials said that among the VMC projects Rupani will inaugurate are the city’s command and control centre as well as the recently renovated Sardar Patel Planetarium inside the Sayajibaug garden. Inauguration of the tourist information centre near the railway station as well as a possible foundation-stone ceremony of the integrated transport hub across the railway station, called the Jan Mahal, under the Smart City project, could also be on cards.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will fly in to Surat on Saturday to address a public meeting as part of the Gaurav yatra, in Bardoli of Surat district. The yatra is due to conclude on Sunday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the Gujarat gaurav mahasammelan at Gandhinagar on Monday. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address a “Mahila townhall” in Ahmedabad the same day. Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, who addressed the Gaurav Yatra at Valsad, Navsari and Surat on Friday, will lead the yatra in Kutch district in the constituencies of Mandvi, Abdasa and Mundra.