Hitesh Chavda, Gandhinagar: Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner (AMC) Vijay Nehra has been announcing that he is fit and fine since the last two days. But he is yet to resume office. He was home quarantined last Tuesday after accidentally coming in contact with a couple of Corona positive patients. Since then he has been side-lined and not seen in action.
This happened suddenly last Tuesday when former Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar was given charge as Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner in absence of Nehra. Another senior IAS officer and Additional Chief Secretary Dr Rajiv Kumar Gupta was given additional task to take over the entire crisis management of Ahmedabad. The political circle was abuzz with stories of how senior political leaders of BJP (read Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah) were unhappy with the handling of the crisis in Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is the second city after Mumbai in terms of high Corona positive cases. In fact, Ahmedabad is the only city in which every ward has several corona positive patients in the entire country.
This has raised questions about the efficiency of the city administration. Both the Prime Minister and Home Minister have represented Ahmedabad for very long. Modi was MLA from Maninagar and Amit Shah from Sarkhej in their initial days. If Ahmedabad fails, questions will be asked about handling of the crisis in their home city. This forced chief minister Vijay Rupani to take immediate steps to salvage the worsening situation.
The same day, emergency meetings were held in which K Kailashnathan, chief principal secretary to chief minister (also considered the PM’s eyes and ears in Gujarat) and Chief Secretary (another PM confident) Anil Mukim remained present along with Rajiv Gupta and Mukesh Kumar. Though Nehra was home quarantined and is considered tech-savvy, he did not participate in any discussions. This further fuelled the murmurs that Nehra has been side-lined.
Immediately after the meeting Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also announced that Ahmedabad is his top priority. The following day, complete shut-down including that of essential commodity shops, barring milk and medicine, was announced for the entire Ahmedabad. This was the harshest action so far to control the wide-spread epidemic. The new team held marathon meetings and took major decisions for three consecutive days, but the home quarantined municipal commissioner was not consulted nor a participant in any of the meetings.
But suddenly within four days of the change-over, home quarantined municipal commissioner has been announcing through his social media handles that he is fit and fine and indicating his keenness to rejoin.
Does it ever happen that the in-charge of all civic affairs of the city needs anybody’s permission to perform his duties. But despite so much self-announcement, he has been absent from work. The matter is with the chief secretary for the past two days and the chief secretary has asked the new team to continue without thinking about the social media announcements of the home quarantined officer.
There is virtually a battle raging between the old and new guard. The new team has been pushing that they need to be given absolute freedom to take necessary actions if they want to bring the situation under control. On the other hand, through social media announcements, political experts feel, the old guard is mounting pressure on the state government to reinstate them.
Many experts feel that Ahmedabad is facing one of its worst crisis as well as one of its worst bureaucratic struggles at the same time.