Show cause notices to 17 Cong corporators

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Jul 2017 10:25:29

Staff Reporter,

Yet to get notice, says Tanaji Vanve

The controversy over Congress corporator Tanaji Vanve’s appointment as Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has taken another twist with Vikas Thakre, ‘Authorised Representative’ of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) issuing show cause notices to 17 corporators including Wanve.

In the notice, Thakre has alleged that these corporators had ‘created a controversy’ over appointment of Sanjay Mahakalkar as Leader of Opposition in NMC. Terming the said act of 17 corporators including Vanve as ‘against the party discipline’, Thakre asked them to show cause within eight days ‘as to why appropriate action available under Section 3 of Maharashtra Local Authority Members Disqualification Act, 1986, and Rules made thereunder and other laws, should not be initiated’ against them.

In the elections to NMC earlier this year, Congress could win only 29 seats. Later, given with no other choice but to be in the Opposition, Congress’ city unit decided to appoint Sanjay Mahakalkar, party corporator from Prabhag No 30, as Leader of Opposition in NMC. In a meeting of Congress corporators held on March 4 at Ravi Bhavan, a resolution was passed regarding appointment of Mahakalkar. Vikas Thakre, former Mayor who lost the election, was President of Congress city unit. 

However, alleging that the decision regarding appointment of Mahakalkar to the post of Leader of Opposition was imposed on them by ‘some party leaders’, 17 corporators including Tanaji Wanve, Praful Gudadhe, Bunty Shelke and others registered their protest with MPCC. Later, they held a meeting and passed a resolution to replace Mahakalkar with Wanve. As 17 out of 29 corporators of Congress passed the resolution in favour of Wanve, the Divisional Commissioner also gave his decision clearing appointment of Vanve as Leader of Opposition in NMC.

Obviously peeved with this, Congress party faction led by Vilas Muttemwar, former MP, and Vikas Thakre, complained to MPCC in this regard. A few days ago, MPCC issued a letter to Thakre asking him to take appropriate action. Now, Thakre has issued show cause notices to 17 corporators. These corporators include Tanaji Wanve, Dinesh Yadav, Neha Nikose, Parasram Manwatkar, Sandeep Sahare, Asha Uikey, Ansari Sayyada Begum, Zeeshan Mumtaz Mohd Irfan Ansari, Zulfekhar Ahmed Bhutto, Gargi Chopra, Kamalesh Chaudhary, Harshala Sable, Rishikesh (Bunty) Shelke, Purushottam Hazare, Manoj Gawande, Praful Gudadhe, and Pranita Shahane.

Meanwhile, Congress corporators held a meeting at NMC and later some corporators went to the residence of Dr Satish Chaturvedi, former Minister and a senior Congress leader. It is learnt that these 17 Congress corporators decided not to respond to the show cause notice issued by Thakre. “Thakre has issued the notice in the capacity of ‘Authorised Representative of MPCC’ as the Model Code of Conduct for organisational elections is in force. As he is not holding any post of authority, there is absolutely no need to respond to his notice,” a Congress corporator is learnt to have said this in the meeting.

When asked about the matter, Tanaji Vanve told ‘The Hitavada’ that he had not yet received the notice. “Once I receive the notice, then I will consult the other corporators and think whether and how to respond to it,” he added.


HC reserves decision 

Staff Reporter,

Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday reserved its ruling in the ongoing controversy over appointment of Congress group leader and the Leader of Opposition in Nagpur Municipal Corporation. Outcome of this bitter legal battle which is being fought in the High Court will have lot of impacts on factional feud within Congress. A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Rohit Deo, heard all the parties including intervenors- Maharashtra  Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), City Congress Committee supporting petitioner Sanjay Mahakalkar who was ousted by a group of Congress corporators led by veteran Tanaji Vanve. This group of 15 corporators is supporting their decision to elect Vanve as group leader, decision of Divisional Commissioner to recognise him as Congress group leader and subsequent decision of Mayor and Municipal Commissioner to designate him as LoP.  The petition is directed against the Divisional Commissioner’s order, approving the name of Vanve in place of Mahakalkar on the strength of a letter submitted to him in writing claiming support of 17 out of 29 Congress members. Subsequently, Mahakalkar also challenged the order naming Vanve as Leader of Opposition.

On March 4, all the elected 29 members of Congress to the NMC including Tanaji Vanve signed a letter proposing the petitioner as their leader and consequently the Municipal Commissioner had accorded recognition to the petitioner as Leader of the Congress party in the civic body for two and half years. According to petitioner, Vanve only created farce of holding meeting on May 16. Vanve was appointed as Congress group leader after 17 corporators belonging to Satish Chaturvedi- Nitin Raut-Anees Ahmed group joined hand and revolted against Mahakalkar. After ascertaining the facts and physically verifying their support and signature, the Divisional Commissioner had recognised Tanaji Vanve, a very old Chaturvedi loyalist as Congress group leader.

Supporting his decision to recognise Tanaji Vanve as group leader of Congress Party in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), the Divisional Commissioner in his affidavit before High Court asserted that Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act and Maharashtra Local Authority Members Disqualification Act and Disqualification Rules 1987, the Divisional Commissioner has powers to decide the issue regarding change of leader. Elected members have right to resolve and elect their group leader and have right to claim change of leader, the affidavit stated while refuting the allegation that he was not legally empowered to accept the application moved by 17 Congress corporators seeking change of leadership. When the petitioner-Sanjay Mahakalkar and City Congress President Vikas Thakre alleged that signature were forged, the Divisional Commissioner immediately asked the Municipal Secretary to verify signatures of the corporators and out of 17, as many as 16 members confirmed their signatures and stood by the demand to change Mahakalkar. Signature of only one corporator Ramesh Punekar could not be verified as he failed to appear. Since majority of Congress corporators were with Vanve, he was declared Group leader, the affidavit stated while seeking dismissal of the petition.

Tanaji Vanve’s counsel strongly countered the arguments advanced by City Congress and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) about their right to appoint group leader in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) by stating that party whip is applicable on all corporators inside the house, but selection of party leader by corporators is outside disciplinary jurisdiction of the party and does not attract provisions of disqualification, since no whip was issued or could have been issued for a meeting held outside the house and for action which squarely falls beyond disqualification norms. Besides, Mahakalkar had no legal right to continue on the post without adequate numbers. Leader without adequate support from corporators can not question the post as a matter of right and can not gag other corporators from expressing their free will. Congress had argued that its decision to appoint Sanjay Mahakalkar as group leader was legal and logical and any change without permission or consent of the party was bad in law while strongly supporting original choice and slamming subsequent decision to change Congress group leader by the respondents.

Senior Advocate S.K.Mishra, Adv Pushkar Ghare (Petitioner), Senior Advocate S.P.Dharmadhikari and Adv Shantanu Khedkar (two Congress Committees), Senior Counsel Sunil Manohar and Adv Akshay Naik (Vanve), Senior Counsel Anand Jaiswal and Adv Sharma (Pro-Vanve Corporators), Adv J B Kasat (NMC), AGP A R Kulkarni (State) appeared in the matter.