Adjournment of budget meeting sparks protest

MYSORE, FEB. 26 . The adjournment of a meeting of the Mysore City Corporation Council convened today to present the budget led to a protest by Janata Dal (Secular) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members who staged a dharna in front of the chamber of the Mayor, Modamani.

The council met at 11 a.m. as scheduled and Ms. Modamani adjourned the meeting for want of a quorum. When Ms. Modamani walked out of the council hall after adjourning the meeting, 10 JD(S) members led by the former Mayor, Narayan, entered the hall and learnt that the meeting had been adjourned.

Enraged by this, the JD(S) and BJP members raised slogans against the Mayor for her "unprecedented'' move. Members of Opposition parties who had by then assembled in the council hall contended that there was no reason for the Mayor to adjourn the meeting when the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance, Taxation and Audit, Kushal Kumar, had come to present the budget.

Mr. Narayan told The Hindu that Ms. Modamani had lost the confidence of members of the ruling party. Ms. Modamani should resign from her post, he added.

Mr. Narayan said 12 Congress corporators had been taken away on a "tour'' by the party leaders. Though the Congress assumed power three years ago, it showed little interest in the civic administration, he alleged. The State Government should supersede the corporation council and appoint an administrator to monitor it, he said. Meanwhile, the Leader of the Opposition in the corporation council, K.T. Cheluve Gowda of the JD(S), wrote to the council Secretary urging him to recommend to the Government to supersede the council for the Mayor's action.

Mr. Cheluve Gowda sought an explanation from the Secretary for not issuing notice to corporators about the meeting at least four days in advance. "How appropriate is it for the authorities to delay the circulation of the copies of the budget to the corporators till the night before the budget meeting?" he asked.

He held the Secretary and the corporation Commissioner, A.B. Ibrahim, responsible for the lapse.

Though the meeting was to begin at 11 a.m., the JD(S) members reached the meeting hall at 10.50 a.m. only to be told that the Mayor had adjourned the meeting at 10.45 a.m., he said.

However, sources in the Congress said the Mayor decided to adjourn the meeting keeping in mind that the copies of budget should have been circulated at least a week in advance to facilitate a meaningful discussion on it. Last year's budget meeting witnessed chaos when the then Chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance, Taxation and Audit, M.C. Chikkanna, refused to table the budget proposals.

The then Mayor, T.B. Chikkanna, sought a clarification from the Law Department to tide over the crisis. Eventually, Mr. T.B. Chikkanna himself read out the budget proposals.