Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis might have to do some tight rope walk regarding the no confidence motion passed against Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe, in view of growing support for the officer among citizens and a demand by Navi Mumbai Mayor for his immediate recall.
The fate of the motion, passed by majority of corporators on Tuesday, now rests with Fadnavis who heads the Urban Development Department, where the motion will be finally sent for approval.
However, the discord between Mundhe and NMMC corporators seems deeply entrenched, with Mayor Sudhakar Sonawane on Tuesday demanding immediate recall of the officer, saying that he has lost his right to head the civic body.
"This officer was exercising his executive powers autocratically. He lost the sense of democratic style of functioning and this is the reason why almost all the corporators cutting across party lines, voted against him (during no confidence motion)," Sonawane told PTI.
The motion was passed 105-6 at a special meeting convened by the NCP-ruled corporation on Wednesday. The six corporators of BJP voted against the motion, which was supported by Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress and Independents.
This is the first time in the history of the civic body that such a motion has been passed against its Commissioner.
Mundhe, who was present in the House, later alleged that he was not allowed to put forth his side.
Sonawane said the House has apprised the state government about the motion and demanded immediate recall of the officer and wanted him to be replaced by another IAS officer.
"We informed the state government about the motion passed against the officer through an e-mail. We are going to send a hard copy of the decision on Tuesday and hope that the Chief Minister would call the officer immediately to take action on our motion," the Mayor said.
He said the section 36 (3) of Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations Act, 1949 stipulates that if such a motion is passed by even 60 corporators, the administrative head should be sacked with immediate effect.
To a question whether Mundhe was targetted by politicians as he cracked whip on illegal activities that clashed with the interests of the powerful lobby of politicians, Sonawane said, "These kind of allegations have no element of truth. Only being honest does not mean everything. An officer who heads administrative things should have the capacity and ability to take every concerned stakeholder along with him. He or she cannot misuse the executive powers blatantly."
Meanwhile, an online petition has requested Fadnavis to overrule the motion against the officer.
"We see Tukaram Mundhe as an honest and upright civic chief of Navi Mumbai who has ruffled the feathers of all politicians and vested interests in the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation. He is sensitive to the needs of citizens and also took on the mafia head-on," reads the petition launched by activist Binu Bose at change.org.
The petition seeking to overrule the motion would be submitted to Fadnavis.
"The no confidence motion has been passed against him (Mundhe) by all political parties. We know that whenever honest officers take on these powerful corporators, they gang up and shoot the messenger," the petition stated.
Mundhe has received immense support from Navi Mumbaikars for running a spirited campaign against illegal constructions, mostly linked to the nexus between some ruling corporators and private builders.
The officer, for the first time in NMMC's history, had proposed a survey to map properties falling under its limit. However, the survey was stonewalled for over 90 days by the unwilling corporators.
He took this decision following an alleged "scam" wherein over 15,000 property owners were allegedly found to have evaded paying property tax to NMMC over the last decade.
On Sunday, local residents, activists and intellectuals had organised a rally 'Walk for Commissioner' in support of the officer.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Aam Aadmi Party requested the CM not to take cognisance of the motion and to "hear the voice of the citizens of Navi Mumbai."
"AAP condemns the no confidence motion passed by the parties in the NMMC. This shows the political nexus between the corporators of Sena, NCP and Congress while the BJP acted as fence sitters but gave its moral support to the resolution (no confidence motion)," it stated.
In a tweet, activist Anjali Damania said, "My blood is boiling. Height of shamelessness of Shiv Sena, NCP & Congress. 105 against 5 in No Confidence Motion of NMMC Comm Tukaram Munde."
Updated Date: Oct 26, 2016 21:46 PM