A high-voltage drama was witnessed at Margao Municipal Council (MMC) meeting on Thursday as 13 opposition councillors staged a walkout minutes after the meeting started claiming that the minutes were manipulated and included what was not discussed and decided in the previous meeting.
They protested by squatting in front of the chief officer’s cabin and raised slogans for almost 45 minutes.
The protest drew the attention of all the employees and visitors to the MMC.
Chairperson Babita Prabhudesai, however, continued with the meeting with 11 councillors backed by Goa Forward Party (GFP) being present and it ended in the backdrop of slogans that were being chanted by the opposition councillors against the council. The 13 opposition councillors, led by Rupesh Mahatme and Doris Texeira, who squatted in front of the chief officer’s cabin, raised slogans until the chief officer entered the cabin after the meeting.
They then submitted a memorandum stating that they jointly boycotted the meeting and that they will not allow the minutes to be confirmed.
BJP-backed councillor Suchita Malkarnekar was not present for the meeting as she is out of station. MMC has in all 25 councillors.
“The minutes are always manipulated. This happens with every meeting. The council, in its last meeting, had decided to install the statue of Dr Jack de Sequeira at the Margao Ravindra Bhavan circle. However, it was not decided to appoint a consultant for it directly. MMC should follow proper procedures. It was written in the minutes that the council has decided to appoint a consultant to which we opposed. If the minutes are confirmed without our consent we will approach court,” stated councillors Rupesh Mahatme, Doris Texeira, Ketan Kurtarkar, Arthur D’Silva. Mahatme cited the Supreme Court judgement as regards the recording of minutes.
“Such a thing has never happened in the past. We have never seen such manipulations in the minutes, which is being done to spend MMC money,” alleged Texeira while protesting at the entrance of the chief officer’s cabin.
“We will not keep quiet. We will meet the chief minister, chief secretary, urban development minister and all others concerned,” stated the agitating councillors.
The councillors, who staged the walkout, included Rupesh Mahatme, Ketan Kurtarkar, Arthur D’Silva, Damodar Naik, Raju (Hardley) Shirodkar, Sharad Prabhudesai, Doris Texeira, Manoj Masurkar, Deepa Shirodkar, Clara Fernandes, Avinash Shirodkar, Suganda Bandekar and Jaffer Budani.
These BJP and Congress-backed councillors are together likely to move a no-confidence motion against the chairperson Prabhudesai.
The chief officer Naik told the protesting councillors that he directly does not write the minutes of the meeting.
He however said that “I will take a legal opinion on the issue from my higher-ups and, accordingly, a decision will be taken.”
He nevertheless said that nothing would be spent from the MMC coffers as regards the consultant issue. When asked, MMC chairperson Babita Prabhudesai said that the minutes were prepared based on what was discussed. “If there is any Supreme Court ruling in that regard, the chief officer has to see it,” she said.