Sanjeev Vijayvargiya addresses the news meet in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The next project a headless and strife-torn Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) may perhaps take up is introducing an opinion poll on its website on the ugly dispute between its CEO and deputy mayor.
With the acrimony between Manoj Kumar and Sanjeev Vijayvargiya reaching a crescendo, civic works such as road repair and garbage collection have already taken a back seat. And Thursday saw the deputy mayor summon reporters to announce a dharna in front of urban development minister Suresh Paswan’s residence in Dhurwa from Friday to push for removal of the CEO.
Vijayvargiya also claimed that “34 ward leaders” out of 55 were supporting him.
However, what might go against the deputy mayor — and in favour of the CEO — is that out of the 34 so-called councillors present at a board meeting on Thursday, at least four were not bona fide civic leaders, but their husbands!
“In-house discussions are meant for councillors and not their spouses,” said a ward member who attended the board meeting, which was followed by the news conference. “I will withdraw support from the deputy mayor’s side because he has forgotten the sanctity of the board. Moreover, I feel he is misusing our faith and trust on him. Many issues are now coming to light, which indicate he is simply being vindictive,” the councillor added.
On the other hand, councillors who have openly voiced their support for the CEO said they would draw the governor’s attention towards some of the pending road and sewer projects.
“Let them sit on a dharna. We will demand an investigation from the governor (on projects). How can an elected representative (read deputy mayor) forget about the city’s development? Our priority should be keeping Ranchi clean and expediting pending projects to make life better for citizens. Instead they (deputy mayor and his coterie) are eyeing funds,” said Mohammed Aslam, councillor of ward No. 25.
Councillor of ward No. 30 Om Prakash added: “The CEO has done some good work like cross-checking funds release, spot-investigating ongoing projects and, above all, not leaving cleanliness jobs to NGOs. These have been done in public interest.”
Ashok Khalko, another ward leader, said: “Instead of demanding removal of the CEO, talks could have been initiated to iron out differences. There was no need to make the fight public. The rift is sending a wrong message to the people. No one is a fool here.”
Insiders believe the CEO’s decision to float a global tender instead of giving cleanliness jobs to NGOs was at the root of the row. “Differences over funds distribution for sewer construction is a decoy to confuse the public,” said a source.