Opposition Leaders Walkout as BMC Commissioner Refuses to Attend In-Person Meeting

Opposition Leaders Walkout as BMC Commissioner Refuses to Attend In-Person Meeting

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has drawn flak from almost every political party as he refused to be present at a group leaders’ meeting. Chahal reportedly declined to join the meeting citing concerns with physical distancing.  

Speaking to mid-day, Opposition Leader at the BMC, Ravi Raja (Congress) said - “Today, the commissioner refused to come to the group leaders' meeting citing physical distancing, and he was dictating orders to the mayor. It is an insult to the post of the mayor. So we walked out of the meeting.”  

NCP, Congress, and SP subsequently issued a joint statement against the behaviour of the civic body chief after walking out of the meeting. Separately, BJP also made its objections clear. One notable exception from the list was Shiv Sena.

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The leaders from all political parties at the BMC meet up to two or three times a month to discuss important civic matters with the Commissioner as well as the Mayor. However, the meetings have not been held for the past four months due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  

A group leader representing the NCP, Rakhi Jadhav said - “The commissioner is not available for any discussion on city-related issues. The civic administration is not bothered to give a reply to the letters of corporators and group leaders.”

Separately, representative and leader of SP, Rais Shaikh said that there are several issues coming up due to cancellation of such meetings. On the other hand, BJP leader Prabhakar Shinde alleged that illegal works are undergoing during the pandemic and that the commissioner feared being cornered by the group leaders. “He attended the tree authority meeting on August 3, where illegal proposals were passed, but he refused to join today's meeting,” Shinde added. 

The Commissioner and Mayor Kishori Pednekar were unavailable for a comment on the matter. However, a BMC official tried to issue a clarification by saying that as per the State Urban Development Department’s order passed on July 3, all municipal corporations are required to schedule meetings over video conferencing. The official added that the meeting with the Tree Authority officials last week was also held via video conferencing. 

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