THE GLOVES are off. From taking behind-the-curtain potshots at the 2021 Indore Development Plan (draft), BJP factions opposed to the development blueprint have now moved into the open.
Sameer Chitnis - former Mayor-in-Council member in-charge of building permission and de facto No 2 during Kailash Vijayvargiya’s mayoral tenure, fired the first salvo. Chitnis, who has since drifted out of the Vijayvargiya camp, tore the master plan draft to shreds at a meeting with media persons at the Press Club this morning.
“The draft is aimed solely at benefiting the land mafia. The conversion of green spaces to residential areas will further congest the City’s central area which is already bursting at the seams,” thundered the bearded politico.
The diatribe set tongues wagging among the local BJP unit. The general consensus was that the former corporator slammed the draft not on own accord, but on the say so of an influential party leader. However, as Chitnis has kept his distance from obvious suspect Sumitra Mahajan camp even after exiting the Vijayvargiya camp, opinion was divided on who this could be.
The guessing game was made doubly difficult owing to Chitnis’ myriad politico-economic connections. Apart from his RSS affiliations, the former corporator - his wife Archana, incidentally, earlier held the Higher Education portfolio in the State Cabinet - is also on good terms with the Congress thanks to his late father-in-law Brijmohan Mishra who served as State Assembly Speaker.
Then, of course, there is the commercial angle. Chitnis, who moonlights as a coloniser and dabbler-in-real-estate after retiring from politics, is said to enjoy very cordial relations with several builders, particularly those opposed to the lobby associated with City BJP chief Ramesh Mendola.
Observers are agreed that whoever’s backing the former BJP corporator is almost certain to enjoy the support of a section of builders who burnt their fingers when, after paying off both the Congress and the BJP for favourable land allocation, the 2011 master plan was scrapped.
On record, though, reactions are carefully guarded. “Anyone who has objections can file an appeal until August 13 when the claims-and-objections deadline expires,” says Mendola.
The BJP chief stubbornly evades attempts to draw him out on his personal views on the 2021 draft. “It is imperative for the City’s growth that the master plan is not delayed further,” is all he’s willing to venture.