Panaji mayor sparks outrage after he buys new car amid lockdown
The mayor of the Panaji has landed himself in hot water for purchasing a new car at a time when the state government is grappling with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Uday Madkaikar sparked outrage after he bought a Toyota Innova Crysta on Monday despite Chief Minister Pramod Sawant saying that no new purchases of vehicles would be sanctioned.
On Tuesday, Madkaikar offered a public apology for his purchase that came from the funds of the municipal corporation.
“I apologise to the people of Panaji. I should not have bought a car in this crisis,” Madkaikar said but hastened to add that a new car for the Panaji mayor was long overdue since the current car was “already seven years old”.
“The car I was using was seven years old. I had requested the government for permission to buy a new car. The cost for a new Toyota Innova base model is Rs. 16.70 lakh. The government at that time had sanctioned the Corporation up to Rs. 14 lakh for a new car for an incumbent mayor,” Madkaikar told reporters.
The Mayor took delivery of the car on Monday but claimed that he had booked it before the lockdown stared last month.
“The vehicle was booked earlier and it is just that the delivery has been taken yesterday,” Madkaikar said.
Car dealerships are yet to open in Goa. Several dealerships have said that they are hopeful that they will open on May 3 subject to guidelines from the state and central government.
In a circular issued earlier this month, the Goa administration had said officers and government functionaries were eligible for more expensive cars. But the chief minister had claimed that the circular was a routine matter and while officers and departments will be eligible to purchase more expensive cars, no cars would actually be bought.
“The circular was a routine administrative matter. The prices of vehicles were last revised more than eight years ago. No new vehicles will be bought or sanctioned,” Sawant had said when asked about the circular.
Under the new circular the Panaji mayor was eligible to buy a car costing Rs 20-lakh up from the earlier limit of Rs 14 lakh.
The mayor’s decision to buy a new car evoked some stinging reactions.
“Congratulations to our BJP Goa’s #CCP mayor for #LockdownPurchase of [a] luxury car out of [the] huge profits in home distribution of essentials as well as illegal #ReopeningTax collected from business establishments of #Panaji. I am sure with remaining profit, the energies will now be concentrated on paying pending two months salaries of #SafaiKarmacharies who have toiled hard during the lockdown period to maintain hygiene in the city,” Sidharth, a former MLA of Panaji and a member of the BJP, said.
During the lockdown the corporation had organized doorstep delivery of essentials, which Sidharth had alleged was a money-making racket, a charge the mayor denied.
The Corporation of the City of Panaji also earned the ire of the city’s business community after it began charging Rs 500 to grant shopkeepers permission to reopen their standalone shops.