Last Tuesday Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner (AMC) Vijay Nehra suddenly announced on twitter that he would be in home quarantine for two weeks as he had come into contact with some Covid19 positive patients. Within minutes, Gujarat government handed his charge to former Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar.
Everyone was shocked as to how can the captain of a team go out of action amid an unprecedented crisis that the city was facing? But the exit was brewing for quite some time. Informed sources have told Gujarat Exclusive a detailed version of how things went wrong for Nehra.Just a few months back, most of the BJP municipal councilors had made several complaints about Nehra all of which went unheard. It was said that Nehra had the political backing of BJP stalwarts. But since the beginning of the corona crisis in Ahmedabad, his popularity has gone down quickly.The first blow came when he announced that if Ahmedabad citizens don’t observe social distancing and follow lockdown seriously, Ahmedabad corona positive cases can rise up to one lakh within weeks.
This statement came as a shocker not just for citizens but for political leaders too. Very senior functionaries of the Government of India expressed their displeasure in no uncertain terms.This was alarming as he was talking about Ahmedabad which hosted the US President in a historic event just a few days back and the event was attended by more than two lakh people. Also, Ahmedabad is the showcase city for the state of Gujarat. Such statements would have caused international embarrassment for the state government and the thought went out that something needs to be done in Ahmedabad not just to arrest the crisis but also about the daily announcements regarding the situation in the city.
Also, unconfirmed sources claimed that the word went out in political circles that Nehra had started using make-up to look good on television during his facebook live broadcasts as most of the television channels used to show it live. It is not certain whether he actually did this, but such stories reached the highest political circles of Gujarat. This caused further problems for Nehra as such things cannot be tolerated when the city is facing the biggest crisis in its history.
(The author is a senior journalist with over two decades of experience covering Gandhinagar, bureaucracy and politics in Gujarat.)