NAGPUR, Maharashtra — When Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray declared the first round of IAS officers’ transfers last week, most BJP leaders in Nagpur were unworried.
Abhijit Bangar, Commissioner of the prestigious Nagpur Municipal Corporation, had only served 14 months out of his stipulated 36-month tenure.
It was business as usual for the BJP in this municipal body until the evening of January 21, when NMC got a new chief in the second round of IAS transfers.
The announcement sent shockwaves because CM Thackeray named controversial IAS officer Tukaram Mundhe, who had been transferred 13 times in a 15-year long career, as the new NMC chief.
On Wednesday, when this reporter visited, the appointment was being discussed in hushed tones throughout the building on Palm road in the Civil Lines area, which houses the office of this prestigious municipal body.
Mundhe has a reputation for being an upright, no-nonsense officer who frequently locks horns with ruling politicians.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has ruled the NMC for 13 years, there is particular cause for worry—after 5 years of heading the Maharashtra government, the party has been relegated to the opposition while former ally Shiv Sena, along with brand-new friends Nationalist Congress Party and Congress, rule the state. BJP workers are worried that Mundhe’s reputation of not clearing a file until he is completely satisfied will impede their hold on the corporation.
“It is an accepted norm that any government contract or file moves with certain understanding which gives benefits to everyone involved. That’s how the NMC works otherwise do you think corporators can sustain on Rs.20,000 per month? Mundhe won’t allow anything,” said a senior NMC corporator on condition of anonymity.
Nagpur, where the RSS is headquartered, is also the hometown of union minister Nitin Gadkari and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Both Gadkari and Fadnavis are highly invested...