On Friday morning, comedian Kapil Sharma’s tweet alleging he had been asked for a bribe by a civic official had the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in damage-control mode. In a first-of-its-kind move, the civic body tweeted asking Kapil to reveal names of officials and why they asked for a bribe.
Kapil’s tweet, which tagged PM Narendra Modi, even got an immediate response from chief minister Devendra Fadnavis directing the BMC to take action.
But by evening, as the tweet went viral, it seemed like the popular star had ended up landing himself in trouble, with BMC sources alleging Kapil had made changes without permissions to a building he owns in Andheri .
Sources said that in July, BMC’s K/West ward office — covers Andheri — issued a stopwork notice to Kapil for making extensions to his ground-plus-two bungalow in Andheri (West) illegally. Kapil was served a notice under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, for adding making changes such as adding an extra floor. He was asked to stop the work and pull down all illegal extensions in 24 hours. On August 4, the BMC even demolished some of them.
Officials said the ward office got complaints from residents about these extensions on the BMC’s encroachment website. Nikhitesh Chaubal, the general secretary of Jagrut Mumbaikar, had alerted officials about these changes in June. “He has destroyed mangroves behind the bungalow and violated Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. He is tweeting about the incident now to get political backing,” Chaubal said.
Parag Masurkar, assistant commissioner of the K/west ward confirmed Kapil placed steel girders on the side of the mangrove.
“We will initiate action and investigate the CRZ violations.”
Despite several attempts through Friday, Kapil was unavailable to comment on the allegations. However, in a tweet he posted in the evening, he thanked Fadnavis and said he would like to personally discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, Kapil’s tweets kicked up a political storm, with leaders lashing out at a corrupt BMC on Twitter.
Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray requested Kapil to share names of the officials, BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said the party will ensure corruption is removed from the civic body and Priyanka Chaturvedi, the Congress spokesperson, said she was glad Kapil exposed the rampant corruption under the BJP-Sena regime.
BJP MLA Ram Kadam, however, complained to the Mumbai Police saying Kapil should name the officials who demanded the bribe, so action can be taken. The MNS said they will not let Kapil shoot in Mumbai if he failed to prove his allegations against an MNS worker. “He has alleged an MNS worker asked for money. He should give us the name in 48 hours. If it turns out to be true, we will take action against the worker. If not, Kapil should apologise and we will not let him shoot in Mumbai,” said Amey Khopkar, MNS’s film wing chief.
In a letter, the BMC said Kapil could keep the names confidential. Manohar Pawar, chief engineer (vigilance) said, “We have asked for details.” The BMC was yet to get a complaint from the actor till Friday evening.