Civic body caught in politics over statues | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Civic body caught in politics over statues

Corporators oppose plan to move 4 statues out of civic hall to accommodate people, reports Sujit Mahamulkar.

mumbai Updated: Apr 18, 2010 01:43 IST
Sujit Mahamulkar

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is facing a tricky political situation.

The BMC was planning to move four statues out of the civic hall to make more space and accommodate more people in the hall during meetings. Corporators, however, have opposed the move.

The corporators are, in fact, demanding that two more statues be erected there.

The hall, where general body meetings are held, has busts of 13 personalities.

The BMC was proposed to remove four of the five busts, including those of Maratha warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Senapati Bapat, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Indira Gandhi. Choosing any four of these is likely to have political repercussions.

"The civic administration has planned to modify the corporation hall to increase its seating capacity from 232 to 300," Municipal Commissioner, Swadheen Kshatriya, said.

"However, the city engineering department has proposed to shift four of five statues," he added.

City Engineer, L S Vhatkar, said, "I cannot comment."

Shiv Sena corporator, Sunil Prabhu, has instead demanded that the bust of famous Marathi poet, V V Shirwadkar, be installed in the hall.

Nationalist Congress Party corporator, Mangesh Bansod, wants the statue of Savitribai Phule, who started India's first school for women.

Both demands were put before the group leaders of all parties at a meeting on Saturday.

"We will discuss the issue in the next group leader meeting. We will think of a way to accommodate new statues without removing any," said Rahul Shewale, civic standing committee chairman.

"It will be an insult to the leaders and social reformists to remove their statues."

The central hall of the 127-year-old BMC headquarters is the building's most important section.

Stalwarts like Dadabhai Naoroji and Ferozshah Mehta in the pre-Independence era and many modern day politicians, including former chief minister, Manohar Joshi, Deputy Chief Minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora have presided over proceedings here.

Political parties are not ready to allow a single statue to be shifted. Congress corporator, Sameer Desai, said: "We will not allow the removal any of an existing statue from the hall. I appeal to political leaders to refrain from such demands."