The alleged display of machismo on part of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) councillor Girish Dhanurkar in thrashing junior civic engineer Rajesh Rathod has failed to win him friends in the municipal corporation. If anything, the corporator has been left in the lurch by colleagues at a time when he’s ostensibly championing a cause that affects all of them.
According to Dhanurkar’s proposition, BMC should apportion every corporator a classroom in a civic-run school to set up office for his or her five-year tenure. “Many councillors do not have offices and cannot afford to acquire spaces at suitable locations to meet common people. So, it would be fitting if BMC that anyway allots classrooms to private establishment provides spaces in schools to us for these purposes,” said Dhanurkar.
Last month, following a notice by the civic body over an unauthorised construction of a mezzanine floor at his party office in Dadar, Dhanurkar had to demolish the illegal portion. But, he immediately moved a demand through ‘Notice of Motion’ before BMC’s general body to obtain free office space in civic schools. Dhanurkar has a 150-sq ft office in Dadar (West), near Jakhadevi chowk. “The space is not owned by me. I pay Rs 25,000 as rent every month. This is practically beyond my means. I am certain that many corporators are facing similar problems, and they will support me in this endeavour,” he said.
However, evidence suggests Dhanurkar could not be more wrong. “Schools should only be used for education purposes. So, instead of allocating classrooms, it would be better if BMC provides corporators spaces in ward office buildings. This is our party’s stand,” said Ameet Satam, councillor from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and chairperson of the K-west ward (Andheri) committee.
Shiv Sena too is not in favour of the demand. “It is not fair for a corporator to set up office in a school building. At a time when BMC has already commenced evicting private non-educational institutions and non-governmental organisations that were occupying classrooms (‘Shut shop and leave: BMC’, Aug 25, MiD DAY), how can we make such a demand?” asked Ramakant Rahate, Shiv Sena corporator from Kalachowkie. He, however, said that if the civic body provides rooms at places other than school buildings, he would welcome the move. Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) too have described Dhanurkar’s bid as ‘100 per cent wrong’.
“Schools should not be disturbed by political activities. Corporators need to sit in offices till late at night to meet citizens, and it is not suitable or feasible to keep school buildings open all the time,” said NCP’s Dhananjay Pisal. On the other hand, Pravin Chheda, Congress corporator from Ghatkopar, said, “Instead of classrooms, BMC should provide steel containers on roadsides for councillors to use as workstations.”
“Even if this demand is endorsed in the general body meeting, the department would not be in favour of allocating classrooms to corporators to be used as offices,” said an official from the education department, who wished to remain nameless.
According to reports, on August 1, Dhanurkar had called Rathod to his office and slammed him over his apparent failure in swiftly responding to a party complaint against an illegal shed in front of the premises. Dhanurkar had claimed that he called Rathod on his cellphone repeatedly, but he didn’t react. The MNS leader and his supporters then allegedly pulled down the office’s shutters and thrashed Rathod inside. The sub-engineer was hospitalised for three days.