With no other burning issue on hand, political parties have pounced on Pune Municipal Corporation’s Draft Development Plan (DP) for the old city to kick-start their campaign for the national and state polls next year.
Many of the issues raised against the plan have been voiced by several of the parties, but even in this melee they are staking claim to certain objections by incorporating them in their campaign agenda.
Having contributed 80 per cent of the 87,000 suggestions and objections against the plan drafted for implementation between 2007 and 2021, the four main parties, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Shiv Sena, have taken the foreground to whip up a “party stand” to court their vote bank.
Discussion forums and awareness workshops have already been called. Posters, pamphlets and banners are already visible or in the making.
With NCP and Congress at the helm of affairs at PMC, the opposition parties in the civic body have been clearly warming up to the idea since the city improvement committee (CIC) tabled it in January this year.
Their minority position in both CIC and the General Body of PMC left them helpless with a weaker voice. Their disgruntlement will now find a higher pitch in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Though most of them are currently coy about this.
“We have not decided on centering our election campaign around this. We have been opposing DP since it was tabled in the GB meeting,” insisted Anil Shirole, city unit chief of BJP.
But almost all the party’s corporators are distributing their list of objections and suggestions to the citizens and have also initiated signature campaigns against DP. “Our State party leaders have given orders and we act accordingly.
DP is related to the denizens of the city and the corporator is their representatives. The party has to raise the issue for the people of the city, so there is nothing awry in deploying the party’s logo and letter-head to take the matter forward,” Shirole said.
“It is really a coincidence that our campaign appears like an election trail,” Balasaheb Shedge, city unit head of MNS shrugged. “We have very little time to tell people about irregular things in DP. So we arranged meetings and discussions.
The slide shows, agitations, posters and banners are tools to press home our points, to the people,” he explained, admitting that the initiative smacked of electioneering. “Though we did not plan it for election, we can now see that we can gain something from it in 2014,” he accepted.
Shiv Sena’s Ashok Harnawal, also could not deny the equity their voice against the DP will yield in the forthcoming elections. “Our agenda is to oppose the plan from the common man’s perspective, rather than an election campaign. But the intiative has given us greater visibility and deepened our reach,” he said.
Party to steering the goings on at the civic body, NCP played safe and initially refrained from raising its objections and suggestions on the DP.
They started posting their two-bit a month after the deadline for registering observations was gone. By the time the severity of the DP’s implications dawned on the party, time had run out and the party city unit chief and Member of Parliament, Mayor Vandana Chavan approached the Chief Minister with some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to press for more time.
“We acted in the interest of the future of the city,” Chavan told Mirror. “There is no politics in this. The time was inadequate even for NGOs, as the DP was difficult to comprehend,” she defended.
► The party has to raise the issue for citizens, there is nothing awry in using our logo to take the matter forward
- Anil Shirole, BJP City Chief
► We acted in the interest of the future of the city. Time was inadequate even for NGOs, the DP was difficult to comprehend
- Vandana Chavan, NCP, City Unit Chief
► Though we did not plan it for the election, we can now see that we can gain something from it in 2014
- Balasaheb Shedge, MNS City Chief
► Our agenda is to oppose the plan for the common man. The initiative has given us greater visibility and deepened our reach
- Ashok HarnawaL, Shiv Sena Leader