Mumbai’s first citizen Sunil Prabhu has had an eventful first two months. The city’s 74th mayor, who assumed office recently, was earlier in the news for his apparently misplaced and misinformed priorities when he demanded helipads from CM Prithviraj Chavan to deal with disaster management scenarios (‘Mr Mayor, we already have helipads for disaster situations’, March 29, MiD DAY).
This time, the Shiv Sena politician is in the middle of a storm over a property he failed to declare while filing nominations for the February civic polls. Prabhu claims that ownership of the flat in question in Neighbourhood Cooperative Housing Society, Kandivli (East), is in dispute, and so his chartered accountant advised him not to declare it. While Opposition members are pointing fingers at him, critics say the mayor should have followed the letter of the law.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s Dilip Lande called a point of order, asking the mayor to give an explanation on the property not disclosed in the affidavit and the goof-up regarding his educational qualification proofs. “It is necessary for us to know about all the allegations made against the mayor when we follow the rules and put in all the details about our holdings,” said Lande. To this, Prabhu replied that during the assembly elections he did not have his HSC certificates and thereby submitted only the SSC ones. “But now I got the duplicate copy of my HSC results before the civic polls and I’ve submitted it,” he said.
Fate in limbo
Talking about his flat in Kandivli, Prabhu said, “I had sold the flat to someone, but the person did not pay me the total amount. It was vacant and the society kept sending me notices, so I thought I might as well keep a tenant and pay the maintenance. The opposite party is yet to hand over the entire amount due to which the property is in dispute. My chartered accountant told me not to include it in the affidavit and that’s what I did.” Although the Opposition leaders accepted the reasons given by the mayor regarding the faux pas at his end, detractors chose not to go by his version. The flat, which is in his wife Sayali’s name, is currently rented to a Bengali family. Former IPS and now a lawyer YP Singh said, “Under any circumstances, the person filing a nomination should declare his assets, disputed or not. The law clearly states that he has to mention the properties he owns. If he hasn’t, action can be taken against him.”