Vasco: Mormugao Municipal Council chairperson Kritesh Gaonkar and deputy chairperson Shashikant Parab were voted out by 12/0 votes and 13/0 votes by secret ballot and show of hands respectively following a high-voltage drama during a special meeting of the council on Friday.
The meeting was convened by director of urban development Dr Tariq Thomas wherein the commissioner of Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) Shashank Tripathi was nominated as the presiding officer. Margao Municipal Council chief officer Siddhivinayak Naik was given the additional charge of Mormugao in absence of chief officer Agnelo Fernandes.
The presiding officer Tripathi, after commencing the proceedings of the meeting, asked the 13 councillors, who signed the no-confidence motion, to speak in favour of the motion, but none of them spoke. He also gave time to the ruling group members to speak against the motion wherein Gaonkar said that “it is a sad thing on the part of the opposition members to destabilise the ruling group as the council was stable for the last six months.”
Councillor Murari Bandekar said that “they will continue to serve the people of Vasco for development and welfare. It is the duty of every councillor to serve people in their respective wards.”
Gaonkar raised strong objection to the proceedings of the no-confidence motion against him by show of hands. The presiding officer Tripathi tried to explain the ruling group about the requirement of secret ballots only on solid ground, but after a lengthy discussion, Tripathi agreed to go ahead with secret ballot.
All the 13 councillors, who had moved the no-confidence motion against the chairperson, cast their ballot, while 12 ruling members abstained from voting. One councillor Sarika Palkar of the ruling group failed to attend the special meeting. The total strength of the council is 25.
After counting of votes, Gaonkar demanded the presiding officer to check a ballot paper wherein it was found that one of the opposition councillors had made ‘cross’ mark by using a personal pen instead of using a marker. The presiding officer then declared the ballot as invalid, however, confirmed that the no-confidence motion against the chairperson was passed by 12/0 votes.
When the proceedings started for the no-confidence motion against the deputy chairperson, the ruling members again objected to the show of hands and demanded voting by secret ballot.
However, the presiding officer went ahead with voting by show of hands only. The motion against the deputy chairperson was passed by 13/0 votes.
Addressing the media, the presiding officer Tripathi said that he has prepared the minutes of the election and will forward it to the director of municipal administration.
Meanwhile, the ousted chairperson Gaonkar, while addressing the media, said that “the decision taken by the presiding officer Tripathi in ousting him will be challenged in the court. I will also challenge the manner in which the proceedings were conducted for the ousting of deputy chairperson by show of hands inspite of demand placed by the ruling councillors to conduct the election by a secret ballot.”
Meanwhile, the media persons had to wait for nearly two hours outside the chief officer’s chamber for official statement on the proceedings of the no confidence motion that was passed against the chairperson and deputy chairperson. Although the proceedings of the special council meeting concluded at 12.15 pm, the presiding officer briefed the press only after two hours at around 2.15 pm.