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Mumbai: Opposition’s funds drought may continue in 2024

Updated on: 02 February,2024 06:48 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sameer Surve |

With uproar over step-motherly treatment of opposition MLAs and corporators—highlighted by mid-day since 2023—matter likely to go the legal route

Mumbai: Opposition’s funds drought may continue in 2024

Ravi Raja, former Opposition leader BMC (right) Iqbal Singh Chahal, municipal commissioner

Key Highlights

  1. Controversial allotment process will continue even in the next financial year
  2. Civic Chief I S Chahal confirmed the development
  3. BMC has distributed Rs 700 crore to MLAs and former corporators

While Opposition parties argue over the unequal allocation of funds to MLAs, the controversial allotment process will continue even in the next financial year thanks to a February 2023 resolution of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Civic Chief I S Chahal confirmed the development. This newspaper has been continuously reporting about the unequal allocation of funds by the civic body.

MiD-Day had revealed how legislators and former corporators belonging to the BJP and the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena were favoured over elected representatives from the Opposition. According to civic documents, the BMC has distributed Rs 700 crore to MLAs and former corporators from the state’s ruling party from April 2023 till December. In February 2023, the BMC administration passed a resolution that the BMC would provide funds for development work that was suggested by MLAs only after the next civic election.

Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Sunil Raut. File Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Sunil Raut. File Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Ravindra Waikar, Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA, had sought a provision of Rs 35 crore for various development works in his constituency. However, his request was turned down. Ajay Choudhari, legislative party leader of the Shiv Sena (UBT), who represents Sewri, said the BMC had the state government insulting voters and citizens of his constituency. While taking the oath of the ministerial post, they had sworn that they would not discriminate. However, not providing funds for the development work in the constituencies of the opponents is discrimination against people of our constituency,” Choudhari added. Now citizens will ask them about this discrimination,” he added further.

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Ravi Raja, former opposition leader of the BMC, said, “Citizens will ask questions about the BMC’s unequal fund distribution. This is taxpayers’ money, not anyone else’s. All citizens have equal rights to it.” In February 2023, mid-day first revealed how in the civic budget, the BMC has allotted R3 crore each to 77 wards that are mainly dominated by the BJP. While BMC made provision of the R1 crore for 150 other wards for civic work. The Mumbai Congress President MLA Varsha Gaikwad filed a case in this regard, citing discrimination, in the Bombay High Court. “But the court has dismissed it,” said Ravi Raja. 

“Now only citizens can give a reply to the ruling party about this discrimination,” he added. Guardian Minister of Mumbai Suburban district Mangal Prabhat Lodha said he didn’t want to make a statement on the issue as it was “pending with the court.” Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Sunil Raut said, “I wrote a letter to the guardian minister of the suburbs. But we are not getting funds for development work. This is cheating the people of our constituency. We will give them [ruling party] a befitting reply in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.”

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Sunil Prabhu, the chief whip of the Sena (UBT), told mid-day, “The court is the only option for us. If we do not get funds for our constituencies next year, we will approach the court again.” Additional Municipal Commissiner P Velarasu will present civic budget of 2024-25 to the civic chief on Friday.

Rs 700 cr
Amount allocated to ruling party MLAs from April till December 2023

- Inputs by Prajakta Kasale

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