People feel sorry at their representatives’ behaviour
However, the meeting concluded with one of the corporators belonging to the ruling group announcing that the House had passed the day’s agenda without any discussion, leaving the entire Opposition in a state of shock and confusion.
Mayor Prashanta K. Budavi and ruling group members walked out of the Council Hall immediately thereafter.
Opposition leaders Balasab Kakatkar, Kiran Sayanak and Dhanraj Gauli reacted sharply to the “undemocratic” style of functioning and said they were in shock and confused. This is not the way the ruling group should function, Mr. Gauli said.
The meeting took off on a stormy note with the Opposition Marathi group questioning the volte-face by the Mayor on her decision taken at the last meeting that she would not convene a council meeting till the Government transferred Commissioner P.A. Meghannavar.
The Opposition also demanded that the Mayor explain her stand on the issue in view of the ruling group describing the Mayor’s decision as “personal”.
In the last meeting, Ms. Budavi had expressed helplessness over the alleged non-cooperative attitude of Mr. Meghannavar and his interference in the Mayor’s responsibilities by bringing in certain issues on the agenda without her notice and announced that the Government would be requested to transfer him. She had also declared that she would not convene a meeting till Mr. Meghannavar was transferred. Her decision had been recorded in the proceedings of the meeting.
When the ruling benches defended the Mayor saying that the contents in the proceedings were personal and asked the Opposition to ignore the matter and allow the meeting to take up issues confronting the people, the Opposition demanded that the Mayor explain whether she corroborated the views of the ruling group members and put her in an embarrassing position.
However, giving in to the Opposition’s demand and in view of the weak defence put up by the ruling benches in the absence of their group leader Sambhaji Patil, Ms. Budavi announced that she would withdraw her remarks on Mr. Meghannavar and pleaded with the Opposition that they should allow the meeting to take up the matters slated in the agenda.
Yet, the Opposition harped on the same issue even after the Mayor repeated her request five times. And, all the while they said that they were not against the development of the city.
The Opposition members also demanded that the Mayor explain her stand in Marathi. This, despite Ms. Budavi’s repeated submission that she could not speak Marathi though she understood the language.
Even the requests made by two MLAs, Feroz Sait (Congress) and Abhay Kumar Patil (BJP), that linguistic differences should not be brought into picture and that they should concentrate on development issues failed to make any impact on the Opposition members. As the arguments and counter arguments continued in the post-lunch session and what was later clarified to media persons that it was “slip of the tongue” on the part of Ms. Budavi to say that she would speak in Kannada as she was a “Kannadiga Mayor”, the Marathi group wasted no moment in entering the well of the House and staging a dharna in protest against such a “partisan behaviour” of the Mayor.
Left with no way out, the ruling group member, Parshuram Dhage, suddenly flashed a copy of the agenda for the day and declared that all of the issues in it had been passed.
With that the Mayor and the ruling group corporators walked out of the meeting hall, which apparently was a post-lunch strategy to save the situation from turning worse.
However, many in the gallery meant for the public felt sorry at the behaviour of their elected representatives who had no time to discuss the people’s problems and development of the city even when Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa had offered to develop Belgaum into a “model city”.
Those who spoke on behalf of the ruling group included N.B. Nirwani, Rajan Hulbatte, Deepak Waghela and Feroz Darga.