Non-BJP parties plan to boycott PM Modi’s event in Pune to inaugurate ‘Smart Cities Mission

Pune, June 25: Local leaders of all prominent political parties, except BJP, on Friday announced that they would boycott the inauguration event of ‘Smart Cities Mission’ project by the Prime Minister in Pune on Saturday.

Reacting to the development, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis late Friday evening asked Pune Mayor to attend the programme.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the ‘Smart Cities Mission’ project at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi.

However, local leaders of NCP, Congress, Shiv Sena and MNS on Friday accused the BJP of hijacking the programme and slammed the Centre for “not following protocol”. The parties announced that they would boycott the event.

The NCP, which is ruling the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), said since the programme invitation cards do not even bear the name of city civic body or Mayor, its party leaders, including Mayor Prashant Jagtap, would not attend the event to protest the “insult”.

Congress also announced that it would protest outside the venue to “condemn the high-handedness of organisers and BJP leadership”.

Senior NCP leader and spokesman Ankush Kakade said, “The entire programme has been hijacked by BJP and Union Government as they have not even followed the basic protocol of mentioning the name of city Mayor on the invitation cards for the event.”

“The invitation cards neither bear the mention of PMC nor the name of Mayor. It is an insult of Pune city and that is why we are not going to attend the program and will boycott it,” he said.

Mayor Prashant Jagtap said the invitation was given to him at the last moment and the permission to welcome PM at the airport as a first citizen of the city, too, was denied.

“It clearly shows that BJP and the Centre are giving secondary treatment to PMC, whose machinery has been working for the event. I won’t attend the event,” the Mayor said.

Similarly, Shiv Sena, which is at loggerheads with BJP following BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari’s comparison of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray with the character of Asrani in “Sholay”, said that that the party would stay away from the event.

“We are going to boycott the event tomorrow and no party office-bearer will attend it,” Shiv Sena city unit president Vinayak Nimhan said.

However, in a late night development, the Chief Minister spoke to PMC Mayor Prashant Jagtap and urged him to attend the programme.

A press release issued by the Chief Minister’s Office, said the CM held a telephonic conversation with Jagtap.

Stating that Mayor’s name was inadvertently not printed on the invitation card, Fadanavis was quoted as saying in the release that he has given orders to inquire on how the Mayor’s name was not printed on the invitation card.

The Chief Minister said he was sure that Jagtap would attend the event, which is in the interest of the city.

“I too was a Mayor (of Nagpur) and respect this position in the local programmes and the state government is also of the similar opinion,” the CM said in the release.

District guardian minister Girish Bapat also urged Pune Mayor to attend the programme.

“I request the Mayor to attend the event as Modiji himself would be coming,” he said.

Congress leader Arvind Shinde said, “The treatment non-BJP corporators are getting at the hands of BJP and the government, it is quite insulting and that is why, we have decided to boycott the event and stage protest to condemn the high-handedness of organisers and BJP leadership.”

Abhay Chhajed, another Congress leader said that in Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) project (UPA government’s flagship programme), there was a place for underprivileged sections. However, in ‘Smart City’ project, poor people have no place.

MNS, too, maintained the same stand and said that the BJP has hijacked the programme by avoiding Pune city.

In a reply to the accusations, the BJP’s city leadership said that the Union Urban Development Ministry has organised the event and the invitations were printed by it.

“Even the name of district guardian minister (Girish Bapat) is not there and this is not the time to boycott the event,” Ganesh Bidkar, a local BJP leader said.