BJP's silent support sees controversial open spaces policy getting passed in BMC

In what comes as a blow to civic activists, the controversial Recreation Ground/Play Ground Policy (RG/PG) was passed in the BMC's general assembly late on Wednesday evening. While the opposition parties created a ruckus in the House, stating that the policy was ill-made, the BJP did a U-turn on its earlier stance and did not oppose the proposal. With the numbers on the Shiv Sena's side, the policy was passed at around 8 PM on Wednesday.

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Matoshree Arts and Sports Trust Complex and Club near Green Field, JVLR, Andheri East
Matoshree Arts and Sports Trust Complex and Club near Green Field, JVLR, Andheri East

The BMC had kicked up a storm when it had come out with an RG/PG policy last year. Although the controversial caretaker policy was scrapped, it allegedly gave a backdoor entry to the so-called caretakers. This means corporate houses and organisations were allowed to retain the property with some riders. It was passed in the civic Improvements Committee but after it faced stiff opposition, the BJP also took one step back last year. City BJP chief Ashish Shelar publicly voiced his objection to it, making the Shiv Sena reluctant to table it before the general assembly at the time.

However, in Wednesday's general assembly, the Shiv Sena managed to get the numbers on its side. The Shiv Sena, which has 75 members in the 227-member general body, needed BJP’s support. As soon as the policy was tabled, opposition leaders created a din in the House. They demanded that the proposal be scrapped altogether. But lacking numbers, they knew they were not going to win. Although the BJP did not support the policy openly, they did not oppose it either, thus leading to it being passed. The BJP demanded that the policy be referred back to the Improvements Committee while Congress, NCP, SP demanded that it be rejected completely. With none of the parties supporting each other, the opposition got negated and Shiv Sena squeezed through.

BJP leader Manoj Kotak tried defending his party's stand by saying, "It's not us, but it is the opposition which has allowed this policy to be passed. They did not gather enough numbers to oppose it. We had demanded that the policy be referred back but they did not support our demand. There was no voting at all. Policy was passed in commotion."

Shiv Sena leader Trushna Vishwasrao said, "We were satisfied with all the safeguards kept in the policy. They will make sure the open spaces are protected. That's why we supported it."

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