Nagpur: The tug of war over within Congress over the post of Opposition leader in Nagpur Municipal Corporation ended on Friday as Tanaji Vanve finally received recognition for the post. Three days after Vanve submitted a letter claiming majority support of 17 among the party’s 29 elected corporators, divisional commissioner Anoop Kumar issued orders to the municipal administration to accord him the group leader status.
The move has paved the way for Vanve to replace Sanjay Mahakalkar as leader of the opposition in the civic house. The decision is to be formally announced by mayor Nanda Jichkar in the next general body. The chances of Thakre, a former mayor, getting co-opted as civic house member have now dimmed as Vanve has already endorsed nomination of Kishor Jichkar for that lone slot.
In fast paced moves, municipal commissioner reportedly sent a letter to the divisional commissioner on Friday morning. The letter cleared the doubts if any raised on the physical parade of Vanve supporters that took place on May 17 in which 16 Congress corporators were present.
The development is seen as setback for the Vilas Muttemwar-Vikas Thakre faction that is controlling the city Congress. But then, a longer legal battle challenging the process by which Tanve got recognition and if the new group’s nominee Jichkar gets co-opted cannot be ruled out. The civic administration claimed it was on a strong legal ground and took the decision on basis of established precedents.
One of the legal points that could be examined is whether a formal approval of group leader is essential with the nomination for co-option. The civic bosses think it is not. Moreover, what gives Vanve’s case a legal spine is the specific mention of the Congress corporator’s meeting that took place on May 16. It was at this meeting that majority (17/29) endorsed Vanve as new leader.
Thakre indicated he was not one to give up easily. “How can one become group leader of the house without approval of the party. Unlike Mahakalar who was elected by MPCC deputed observer Arif Nasim Khan and all 29 corporators signed the letter in his favour. Vanve did not have party approval. If this is valid, then the political parties will lose relevance,” said Thakre.
Vanve group countered this, saying the formal approval of city party president or MPCC are necessary when the civic group leader is appointed first time. Subsequent chances happening on the basis of majority support within the party civic group, need no such approvals from party as the elected corporators’ group is a separate entity.
In the next general meeting, the civic administration is likely to present five names in a sealed envelope to the mayor for selecting co-opted members. Four of these will be from the BJP while fifth name most possibly will be that of Kishor Jichkar. Thakre could then challenge it saying Mahakalkar had the authority of nomination on May 18 and not Vanve.