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Mayor faces no-trust motion heat

A no-confidence motion was moved against mayor and JDU member Afzal Imam on Monday. It can be perceived as another blow to the JDU in the state capital.

Monday’s motion was signed by 33 dissatisfied ward councillors of Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC), many of whom are of the BJP and the LJP. However, the dissatisfied ward councillors did not include the name of deputy mayor Rup Narayan Mehta, a BJP worker, in the no-confidence motion.

The motion was moved amid high-pitch drama at the PMC headquarters at Mauryalok complex. Norms mandate the mayor to accept the no-confidence motion but apparently Imam avoided doing so. He arrived in his chamber around 11am and left within 10 to 15 minutes, keeping the dissatisfied war councillors waiting.

In the absence of the mayor, either his or her personal assistant or the municipal secretary is supposed to accept the no-confidence motion. Accordingly, the Opposition led by former deputy mayor Vinay Kumar Pappu, Deepak Chaurasiya and former mayor Sanjay Kumar insisted that municipal secretary Aarti Kumari accept the motion and condemned Imam for boycotting the democratic process. Around 12.15pm, Aarti accepted the motion, which was signed by 33 ward councillors.

The dissatisfied ward councillors fumed over Imam’s actions. (see chart)

“Mayor Imam showed utterly irresponsible behaviour today (Monday) and disrespect to the democratic process in the civic body by not accepting the no-confidence motion himself. He even asked his staff not to accept the motion on his behalf. It is due to this autocratic behaviour that we want Imam to be removed from the mayor’s post,” said Dipak Chaurasia, councillor of ward number 2.

The mayor, on the other hand, denied all allegations of the Opposition. “I have fulfilled all my responsibilities with utmost sincerity. About accepting the no-confidence motion, I had to attend an important meeting because of which I left. I had asked the municipal secretary to accept the motion on my behalf,” said Imam.

According to the norms governing urban local bodies in the state, the Opposition can bring a no-confidence motion against the chief ward councillor after two years of his/ her tenure. The last civic body polls in Patna district was held on May 22, 2012, and Imam was elected as mayor on June 10 the same year.

According to Section 25(4) of Bihar Municipal Act, 2007, the motion can be brought against the mayor upon a requisition made in writing by not less than one-third of the total number of ward councillors. The 33 dissatisfied ward councillors, who signed the motion against mayor Imam on Monday included 14 women as well.

“The present mayor has betrayed the residents by failing to discharge his duties,” said Sushma Sahu, councillor from ward number 38.

The mayor is now required to call a special meeting on the motion within seven days. The disgruntled ward councillors would also recommend the date of the meeting. In case the mayor fails to call the meeting within seven days, the municipal commissioner would hold the same in a day or two. During the meeting, a debate would be held between the two sides, which is to be followed by voting for the no-confidence motion. If more than 37 ward councillors vote for the motion, then the incumbent mayor would be removed and the municipal commissioner would recommend to the state urban development and housing department to hold fresh elections for the civic body.