The concerted attack by MLAs from Bhopal on BMC commissioner Tejasvi Naik has its genesis deeply rooted in the competitive politics of the city, especially between the ruling party legislators and the mayor.
Naik, sources said, is being targeted for having a good rapport with mayor Alok Sharma, who is a key player in the competitive political scene in the state capital.
Vishwas Sarang, Narela MLA, who spearheaded the attack on the municipal commissioner, Huzur MLA Rameshwar Sharma who supported him in the assembly and mayor Alok Sharma all from the BJP, began their political career almost at the same time and have progressed similarly.
Sources said that after serving as corporators in the civic body, these leaders were given tickets to contest the assembly elections.
It is an open secret that Rameshwar Sharma and Alok Sharma worked against each other when both contested unsuccessfully for the assembly elections from the Bhopal North segment in 2003 and 2008 and contributed to Arif Aqueel’s victory on both occasion.
In 2014, Alok Sanjar skyrocketed past all of them when he bagged the Lok Sabha nomination and won, causing a setback to this set of BJP leaders who were eyeing the nomination.
Again in 2014, the CM decided to field Alok Sharma for the post of Bhopal mayor and was elected comfortably.
On Saturday, Alok Sharma worked behind the scenes to get a censure motion planned by corporators against the BMC commissioner dropped, sending out a clear message to them that it was he and not the MLAs who control the civic body.
The first signs of tension between Sarang and Naik, sources said became public during the monsoon season.
Sarang was upset because the mayor and commissioner had ordered clearing of some structures that were causing water logging in an area that is under his constituency while he was not present.
Later, the commissioner held a “jan sunwai”—public hearing — in Sarang’s constituency, without informing him. The commissioner refused to comment about his problem with the legislators, saying he was only doing his work.
“A meeting was convened and the commissioner did not come for it. This amounts to disrespecting elected representatives,” he had said on Friday.
However, a political commentator says that there are other reasons behind the spat. “The post of municipal commissioner involves dealing with politicians of varying seniority, especially in Bhopal where even central leaders are stakeholders in corporation politics,” said Girija Shankar, a senior journalist.
“At a practical level, the commissioner need to understand the politics and cannot afford to be politically intolerant,” he said, adding that elected representatives now expect bureaucrats to be in attendance all the time, something which is extremely difficult in Bhopal, where everybody is influential.
If the commissioner doesn’t give in to these demands, there will be friction.”