MCD budget meeting adjourned after ruckus over councillor fund

For the first time, a special meeting of MCD to present its budget estimates was adjourned midway on Friday after the opposition Congress created a ruckus.

New Delhi: For the first time, a special
meeting of MCD to present its budget estimates was adjourned
midway on Friday after the opposition Congress created a ruckus
accusing ruling BJP of misleading people on allocating
additional Rs 50 lakh to councillors for development work.

MCD Standing Committee Chairman Yogender Chandolia, who
was to read out his budget proposals, could only table the
document amid din. After the meeting was adjourned, BJP flayed
Congress for the disruption and took out a protest march.
BJP members went to Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna`s
residence while state party chief Vijender Gupta, Chandolia
and Leader of MCD House Subhash Arya met him and demanded
action against Congress leaders for creating a "constitutional
crisis" by stalling the presentation of budget.

"The L-G has assured us he will order an inquiry into it
saying that in democracy everyone has the right to place their
views but nobody can flout the MCD rules," Arya claimed.

It was trouble from the word go as even before Chandolia
could raise from his seat, Congress member Satbir Sharma was
on his feet, asking why the announcement of allocating Rs 50
lakh more under the councillors` fund was made without "taking
the administration into confidence".

He said the announcement was made at a meeting of MCD
House on December 13 but when members are approaching the
officials with estimates for their development works, they are
being told that there is no money. Congress members alleged
that Chairmen of Standing and Works Committee as well as the
Mayor has written letters about release of funds but no money
was being made available for the councillors.

Congress councillors raised slogans like "take back false
letters" and trooped into the well. BJP members also shouted
counter-slogans. Commissioner K S Mehra said funds would be
released if such a proposal comes from Standing Committee and
is cleared by the House but this failed to satisfy Congress.

After 50 minutes of uproar, the meeting was adjourned.

Gupta and Arya later told reporters that Congress members
created a "constitutional crisis" as for the first time, a
special budget meeting had to be adjourned midway. They said
as per rules, no business unrelated to budget can be moved,
discussed or transacted in such a meeting.

"The Congress should say sorry to people. We want to ask
the Congress high command whether they had given consent to
such behaviour. If not, they should clarify it and remove the
leader of opposition who is responsible for this. The
government is trying to stifle the local body," Gupta said.
Leader of Opposition J K Sharma said BJP should say sorry
for misleading people by announcing the additional budget and
accept they have committed a mistake.

Both parties also tried to give a `Dalit` angle with BJP
saying Chandolia was not allowed to speak as he was Dalit
while Congress claimed the ruling side abruptly adjourned the
meeting without trying to resolve the issue as they wanted to
"embarrass" the Dalit leader. The budget will now be presented
at another special meeting of MCD on Monday.

Chandolia later issued a statement alleging that Congress
was showing anti-Dalit attitude and that the Leader of
Opposition intentionally disrupts the meetings chaired by
him. He said he has demanded that Sharma`s membership of MCD
be quashed.

In his budget proposals too, Chadolia has taken on the
Congress, accusing the Delhi government of trying to "weaken"
the civic body.

Chandolia has rejected the five per cent across-the-board
property tax hike proposed by Municipal Commissioner K S Mehra
in December last year. He has recommended an increase of Rs
579.20 crore over the Rs 6364.43 crore expenditure for 2011-12
proposed by the Commissioner, taking the total to Rs 6943.63

The Standing Committee Chairman has also announced
increased allocation under various heads for each ward.

Rs 50 lakh will be given for improvement of roads in each
ward, incurring an expenditure of Rs 136 crore. The allocation
under other heads are -- sanitation services (Rs 25 lakh each
-- incurring Rs 68 crore), maintenance works (Rs 75 lakh each
-- incurring Rs 204 crore), streetlighting in wards (Rs five
lakh each -- incurring Rs 1.36 crore) besides Rs 50 crore for
civic amenities in unauthorised colonies.