Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Pune district has come under controversy after the BJP-ruled Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) directed civic departments to take up repair work in parts of the city the PM is expected to pass through, but also asked them to maintain secrecy about the work.
Modi is going to address an election rally in Madha in a couple of days and he is likely to make a brief halt at Pune en route, on April 16 or 17.
As the PMC’s official communication has explicitly mentioned that there was a need to “maintain secrecy about the Prime Minister’s visit” due to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), the city unit of the NCP has taken up the issue and claimed that it was a violation of the code, which came into effect once the dates of the Lok Sabha elections were announced in March.
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In a communication to various civic departments, PMC’s Public Relations Officer Sanjay More had said, “Considering the election code of conduct for the Lok Sabha, there is a need to maintain secrecy about the Prime Minister’s visit. The officials should not discuss it and they should avoid any publicity about it, as per the directions repeatedly given in the meeting by the district administration. The civic officers should take note of it.”
The PMC’s road department has been asked to repair the stretch between Pune airport to Raj Bhavan and ensure that the height of all the speed breakers is as per the set norms, the water supply and sanitation department has been asked to ensure that there are no leakages on the road while the solid waste management department and ward offices have been asked to clean up the stretch. The PMC has also asked civic departments to remove encroachments on the road with immediate effect and cut off trees and branches that hamper traffic.
The Pune district administration had also called a meeting on Friday to discuss preparations for the PM’s visit.
However, NCP’s city unit chief Chetan Tupe said the party was aware that details of the PM’s visit couldn’t be made public due to security concerns, but making various civic departments carry out repair work by “using the PM’s visit as an excuse” was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
“It was clear that the ruling BJP was pressuring the civic administration to take up civic work to beautify the city roads, on the pretext of the PM’s visit,” he said. The NCP is going to file a complaint about the PMC “violating” the code of conduct with the Election Commission as the work was being done to influence voters, said Tupe.
Tupe added that issuing directives about repairing roads and fixing speed-breakers for the PM’s visit, while ignoring such issues when they affected local residents, was wrong. The steps by the PMC to remove encroachments could have been taken earlier, he said.