A senior official of South Delhi’s civic body was on Thursday accused of misbehaviour by women councillors of the Congress, who stormed out of the House meeting in protest.
Councillor Indu Sharma said engineer-in-chief Ravi Das had accused her of misusing funds when she went to him to ask about releasing the same for work in her ward.
“He told me that all women councillors eat up the funds. He should not be disrespectful, we are chosen representatives of the public,” said Ms. Sharma.
She said she went to Mayor Khushi Ram after the incident, but he refused to intervene. “He told me ‘I can’t pull him up in front of the House’,” said Ms. Sharma, adding that the official threatened to have the accounts of her ward investigated.
As she told the House about the incident that occurred two weeks ago, more women joined in with their own experiences with the same official. This led to the Congress storming the well and raising slogans against the official.
Leader of the Opposition Farhad Suri asked the Mayor to direct Mr. Das to apologise. But, as no apology was forthcoming, the Congress councillors left the meeting and threatened to protest on Monday.
Another Congress councillor, Omwati, said: “Around two months ago, the same official misbehaved with me. I had gone to his office to ask for a Junior Engineer to be appointed for my ward as there is only one for two wards. As I was sitting down, he asked me to keep standing and finish my talk.”
Kalkaji councillor Narinder Kaur Captain said the official had been habitually misbehaving with women representatives in the SDMC. “Women councillors have to keep running after him to get work done and he just ignores us,” she said.
Mr. Suri added that he had also had a run-in with the official about six months ago. “The truth is that the engineer-in-chief is the fountainhead of corruption. We were aware of this and had even demanded that there be a three-member committee to release funds instead of just him,” said the Congress leader.
But, he added, the issue at hand was not about the inequitable allocation of funds. “It’s about women not being treated respectfully,” Mr. Suri said.
Mr. Das, for his part, denied the allegations. “The councillor came to me regarding some funds and I gave her the amount according to my capacity. She started alleging that no work gets done in her ward. All I said was that it was a matter for an inquiry,” the engineer-in-chief said.
While the Congress stuck to its guns, the BJP said the Opposition’s problem with the engineer-in-chief was not about women’s dignity, but about exerting influence.
Leader of the House Subhash Arya said: “The Congress has a long-standing grudge against this official as they want him to allot funds according to their whims and he won’t do anything against the law.”
BJP leader and Standing Committee chairman Satish Upadhyay said the allegations were a ploy by the Congress to disrupt proceedings.