After suspending the mayor of Jaipur Greater Municipal Corporation and three other BJP corporators for unruly behaviour, the Ashok Gehlot government has surprised many by appointing another BJP corporator Sheel Dhabhai as the acting mayor. Dhabhai can serve as the acting mayor for 60 days, according to legal provisions.
The Congress’ move has surprised the saffron party that was agitating against the suspension of mayor Soumya Gurjar and the BJP corporators.
Sheel Dhabhai is a former mayor of the erstwhile Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) before it was bifurcated. Dhabhai, like Soumya Gurjar, also belongs to the Gujjar community. She had served as the mayor of the city from December 2001 to November 2004.
Why Soumya Gurjar was suspended
Soumya Gurjar and three others were suspended for assaulting and abusing the municipal commissioner Yagya Mitra Singhdeo, an IAS officer. She was suspended after an inquiry conducted by the directorate of the local bodies found her guilty of abusing and assaulting the commissioner with three other corporators of the saffron party.
The mayoral position in Jaipur Greater Municipal Corporation is reserved for the OBC (women) and the Gehlot government taking advantage of legal provisions appointed Dhabhai as the acting mayor. Thus, by appointing a mayor from within the BJP corporators, the Gehlot government dispelled the claims of the saffron party that the Congress government was hell-bent on destabilising the elected municipal body.
The Act relating to the mayor empowers the state government to appoint an acting mayor in case a mayor is suspended or declared ineligible. But the acting mayor should be appointed from the same reserved category to which the mayor in question belonged.
Normally, the deputy mayor is appointed as the acting mayor, but since the mayor’s position could be occupied by a person from the same reserved category, the deputy mayor could not be appointed as he belonged to the general category. Thus, Puneet Karnawat, the deputy mayor could not be appointed as the acting mayor and Sheel Dhabhai was chosen for the job.
Sheel Dhabhai belongs to Vasundhara Raje faction
Interestingly, Sheel Dhabhai belongs to the Vasundhara Raje group in the faction-ridden Rajasthan BJP. She was a contender for mayorship, but was not allowed to become the mayor because she belonged to the Vasundhara Raje faction.
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