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Rajpal misused mayor's fund, says RTI activist

Mayor refutes allegation, calls it attempt to malign his image in run-up to Pune Municipal Corporation election

Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal has been accused of misusing the mayor's fund for personal gain. The allegation was made by RTI activist Mahendra Dhavade on the basis of a brief account statement obtained from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Information Office.




Accused and accuser: Mayor Rajpal has been accused by activist 
Mahendra Dhavade (below) of withdrawing Rs 5 lakh in his own name 
and Rs 5.78 lakh in the name of his PA Bhagwan Panchamukh. 
Pics/Vivek Sabnis

Rajpal refuted the allegation, calling it an attempt to malign his image at a time when elections were nearing. Urging Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak to conduct an inquiry, Dhavade said Rajpal had collected around Rs 50 lakh in the mayor's fund in his two-year tenure.

"This fund is supposed to be spent for the wider social cause, to help the needy and poor and also in a calamity. Rajpal has withdrawn Rs 5 lakh in his own name; Rs 5.78 lakh was also withdrawn in the name of his PA Bhagwan Panchamukh. A sizable amount was also spent in the name of five other PMC employees," he said. "It sounds fishy that the PMC does not have any information on how and where the money was spent by the Mayor. 

The Mayor has used Rs 50 lakh without any strong social reason. He had also paid Rs 5 lakh to an advertising company. There are no guidelines available with PMC on how the mayor's fund should be spent or utilised." Dhavade said that there should be some control by the PMC administration and rules should be framed on how to spend the mayor's fund created for social causes.

Rajpal said: "Mayor's fund has no audit, nor does it come under any administrative control of the civic body. The fund is to be spent under the wish of respective mayor only. I had not used a single paisa for me or for my employees in PMC office." Rajpal also claimed that he was the only mayor in the past 60 years to have collected the maximum amount in the mayor's fund and that he had spent it wholeheartedly on poor and needy citizens. 

"I spent the money on poor jobless women, hearing aids for deaf and dumb, cycles for slum dwellers and education fee for economically poor students," he said. "Dhavade has made baseless allegations all the time and had also made charges of corruption on PMC's electrical engineer Kundar which proved wrong. Dhavade is doing this only to please the BJP as his wife Sangeeta wants a ticket to contest election in Sinhagad Road area. Levelling allegations on me shall give him a free publicity."

Baisakhi Festival controversy
MAYOR Mohansingh Rajpal was accused of spending Rs 30 lakh from the PMC funds on the Baisakhi Festival in the city in April 2010. Former municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade even appointed an inquiry committee in response to the accusation by Sikhs and RTI activists. The Sikh community and RTI activists claimed Rajpal had illegally used PMC money to make a donation of Rs 30 lakh for the Baisakhi celebrations. Finally, Rajpal had to give back the money to the PMC.

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