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Mumbai: Online vs offline BMC meetings become bone of contention

02:28 AM Oct 14, 2021 | Dipti Singh

A week after the Bombay High Court’s direction to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee to allow members to physically attend meetings, the civic body on Wednesday yet again held a virtual meet. BJP corporators have now threatened to move court over contempt of court’s order.

BMC standing committee chairman and Shiv Sena corporator from Byculla, Yashwant Jadhav justified the move by stating that the state’s urban development department (UDD) is also holding virtual meetings. Jadhav said he is following a UDD order which states that they are yet to allow physical meetings. He added, “While physical meetings are being demanded by all members across party lines, we have to follow orders from the state government.”

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Last week, the HC had directed the chairman of the BMC’s standing committee to allow members to physically attend meetings. However, the UDD on Tuesday wrote to the BMC asking it to follow its earlier order of June 28 to conduct virtual meetings.

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The BJP has alleged that the Shiv Sena has vested interest in conducting the meetings online. It claimed the idea is that other members shouldn’t be able to point out any lacunae and loopholes, leading to proposals likely getting passed without opposition.

BJP corporator and standing committee member Bhalchandra Shirsat said, “Is there no respect for the judiciary now, that the ruling party would do anything they wish to. We will move court against this.”

Other opposition parties – the Congress, NCP and the Samajwadi Party, too, joined the bandwagon and criticised the ruling party and civic administrating for not allowing physical meetings.

SP corporator from Agripada and Bhiwandi MLA Rais Shaikh said, “No regards for the judiciary and no respect for democracy. Many issues / proposals tabled in the standing meeting need voting on several issues and hence cannot continue to be held online at a time when most Covid-related restrictions have been eased for everything else.”

Leader of opposition Ravi Raja and Congress corporator and NCP’s group leader in the BMC Rakhi Jadhav have also demanded a physical meeting. Congress corporator and standing committee member Javed Juneja also agreed. He said, “I have already written to the Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal and the Mayor Kishori Pednekar to resume physical meetings at the earliest. When everything is opening up, why continue standing committee meetings virtually?”

Also Read: Third covid wave in Mumbai: BMC hopes for the best, prepares for worst

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