The Bathinda Municipal Corporation (MCB) budget was passed on Thursday amid chaos. The day brought emabrassment to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, as its coalition partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the one to raise objection. The deputy mayor, who is from the BJP, took on the Akali mayor and commissioner, charging them with projecting wrong figures in the budget proposed for the upcoming year.
He called the budget "directionless". In the budget, MC had proposed to generate a revenue of Rs 116 crore and spend 55% of the money on development works. Property tax is expected to generate Rs 12 crore revenue. Councillors of opposition party, the Congress, who were expected to make a hue and cry during the session, chose instead to boycott the proceedings after raising slogans. It was the fifth and last budget of this house, where deputy mayor Tarsem Goyal stole the show.
Playing a better role than opposition, whose most councilors were absent from the house, Goyal raised serious allegations against municipal commissioner Uma Shankar and mayor Baljit Singh Birbehman. He also charged them with presenting old wine in new bottle, by just moving the figures a little.
Both Mayor and commissioner dened the allegation and passed the budget amid chaos. “There is nothing new in the proposals and they have only changed a few figures here and there. It's almost a copy of the old budget on new paper. There is no mission statement in it for the city,” said Goyal, interrupting Uma Shankar, who was reading the budget.
“You have chosen a very easy way to run the MC," the deputy mayor told Uma Shankar. "It's to sell the city's propery and run the city with that money. Now you have sold Blue Fox for Rs 80 crore. It cannot go on like this. It is not sustainable development."
Goyal sought permanent resources for revenue. "There are only two ways to run the affairs. Either raise your income or cut your expenses,” said the deputy mayor. "They have put in wrong figures to make it look polished.”
He also accused the commissioner of ignoring public representatives. “We are not fools," he said. "We know what you do with files. I have seen public representatives begging the commissioner and small officials to get work done." Goyal told the commissioner point blank that he had no right to read the budget when it was the mayor's job.
“We have failed to keep our promises to people in the past five years," said Goyal, adding that how would the alliance go back to people during civic elections. “We are under huge debt," he said. "What will we handover to the next house that will be elected this year.”
Repeated attempts to contact municipal commissioner Uma Shankar for comments over the issue however proved futile.