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PMC’s rich legacy of sending leaders to state, national levels vanishing
CAMIL PARKHE | Saturday, 11 February 2017 AT 06:52 PM IST
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Since its inception in 1857, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has sent many of its members at State and national levels to lead in various sectors including politics, social works and even in the film industry. One of the oldest civic bodies in the country, the PMC has provided state and national level political leaders, philosophers, social reformers, litterateurs, playwrights and also acclaimed civil engineers.

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule - after whom the vegetable market in the city is named - was a member of the PMC. In fact, as a member of the civic body, Phule had opposed the proposal for construction of a central market in the city and demanded that the same funds should be used for providing education to poor children. The market, initially named after the then Mumbai Governor Lord Reay, was later renamed after Mahatma Phule.

A glance at the list of mayors, deputy mayors and other office-bearers of the civic body will surely make the civic body and Puneites proud.

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, father of the Indian unrest against the British empire, was a member of the Pune Municipal Council for a brief period. He resigned from his membership in 1897, following his arrest for his suspected involvement in the murder of General Rand by the Chaphekar Brothers in Pune. The other known personalities who moved from the civic body to contribute to the state and national level include the political guru of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the Servants of India Society, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, world renowned engineer, Sir M Visvesvaraya, journalist and orator Acharya PK Atre who served as the civic body’s standing committee chairman. Marathi film ‘Shyamchi Aai’, directed by Acharya Atre, became the the first film to win the national award in 1953.

Sardar Dorabjee Pudumjee was the first president elected by the nominated members while the honour of being elected to the mayoral post by the elected members went to editor-writer Narsinha Chintaman Kelkar in 1918. Earlier, from 1858 to 1885, the district collector was the ex-officio chief of the municipal council.

Significantly, Lokmanya Tilak was also the first national leader to be honoured by the Pune Municipal Council. Earlier, this honour was restricted to the British officials alone. Tilak was presented a scroll of honour by the council just eight months prior to his death when he arrived in Pune from London in December 1919.

Thereafter, the PMC kept up the tradition of honouring the national leaders despite the disapproval of the British government. These leaders include Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Swantryaveer Savarkar Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who was Pune Municipal Council president from 1902 to 1906 recognised for the first time the right of citizens to witness the proceedings of the civic body’s meetings and also laid the precedence of providing citizens minutes of these meetings.

Sir M Visvesvaraya whose birth anniversary is celebrated as ‘Engineer’s Day’ was a nominated member of the Pune Municipal Council from 1902 to 1905. He was also instrumental in increasing the storing capacity of the Khadakwasla damSocialist leader Nanasaheb Goray who had been Pune mayor, was later elected to the Lok Sabha and also served as the Indian High Commissioner to the Great Britain during the shortlived Janata Party regime. Narhar Vishnu Gadgil who was deputy president of Pune Municipal Council in 1931 served as a Union minister in the country’s first cabinet and later also as governor of Punjab.
Socialist leader and former minister of state for home Bhai Vaidya was Pune mayor during the Nagari Sanghatana experiment initiated by Sakal Founder Nanasaheb Parulekar in 1970s. Labour leader Dr Baba Adhav was also a member of the civic body in 1970s. Mohan Dharia was the last member of the Pune Municipal body who rose to become a Union minister and vice-chairman of the Planning Commission.

This rich legacy of the PMC providing leaders of state and national statures has been unfortunately missing in the recent past few decades.

Mohan Dharia was the last member of the Pune Municipal body who rose to become a Union minister and vice-chairman of the Planning Commission. This rich legacy of the PMC providing leaders of state and national statures has been unfortunately missingn the recent past few decades.


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