The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Maharashtra government on Wednesday suspended the no-confidence resolution passed by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) against its chief Tukaram Mundhe last month.
Using its special powers, the state urban development department, which chief minister Devendra Fadnavis heads, suspended the NMMC’s resolution citing larger public interest and municipal finances, a senior official from the state urban development department said.
Politicians from all parties expect the BJP had got together on October 25 to pass the motion of no-confidence against Mundhe, who won plaudits from ordinary residents for his strict action against encroachers and hawkers but fell foul of corporators for sticking to the rule book.
“We have made an interim decision suspending the NMMC’s resolution. As per procedure, we have given the corporation and the mayor 30 days to respond and present their side, after which we will take a final decision,” the official said.
Section 451 of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act gives the state government the power to suspend a resolution in several circumstances — when it is in contravention or in excess of the corporation’s powers, is likely to breach peace or cause annoyance to the public, is against the corporation’s financial interest of even against larger public interest — with a justification.
Corporators voted against the IAS officer of the 2005 batch, with a 104-6 vote in the 111-member house. Corporators from Congress and Shiv Sena supported the motion proposed by the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), while six BJP corporators voted against it. One corporator was absent. The corporators alleged the bureaucrat disrespected elected representatives and took decisions arbitrarily. Mundhe’s work in the corporation, however, especially regarding illegal construction and corruption in the civic body, won him the support of residents, who rooted for him, circulating ‘Support Mundhe’ messages throughout the controversy.
Last week, Fadnavis, who is said to have hand-picked Mundhe for the job, said the state should back good officers and Navi Mumbai still needed Mundhe. But he said he had advised Mundhe to improve his communication skills with elected representatives. Fadnavis’ decision is also seen as a snub to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray who had favoured Mundhe’s removal.
Navi Mumbai Mayor Sudhakar Sonawane said he is yet to receive the government’s order suspending the no-confidence resolution against Mundhe. “Even under Section 451, the state has no grounds for suspending the resolution against Mundhe. Our decision is not against public interest. If the state is giving us 30 days to present our say, we will reiterate our stand. Mundhe takes decisions whimsically. He is a threat to democracy,” the NCP leader said.