NCP, BJP spat over cancelled PMC-PFI deal in 2020 to cremate Covid victims

The NCP on Tuesday demanded that the BJP government publicise the information pertaining to the Popular Front of India (PFI) that led to the cancellation of the agreement between the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and PFI two years ago on cremation of Covid-19 victims.

“The PFI is under the Union government’s scanner over alleged unlawful activities against the country. The investigation agencies should carry out their investigation and make the information public. However, the BJP-ruled PMC had signed an agreement with PFI and later it was learnt that the agreement was cancelled on the instruction of Devendra Fadanavis, who was the then Leader of Opposition,” said city NCP spokesperson Pradeep Deshmukh on Tuesday.

The PMC had an agreement with PFI in April 2020 for the disposal of bodies of Covid-19 victims. The agreement was later cancelled in June 2020 after the BJP objected to it citing the PFI’s alleged unlawful activities.

“The agreement was canceled at the insistence of Fadanavis — then there must have been a serious reason. So, the leader of high stature should have made the objectionable information public and provided it to investigation agencies. Why was this not done in the past two years?” Deshmukh said.

Responding to the NCP, BJP’s Murlidhar Mohol said the decisions were taken by the civic administration during the pandemic when the state government was in control of the civic body. The Maha Vikas Aghadi was in power in the state and the municipal commissioner had appointed many organisations, including PFI, to cremate the bodies of Covid victims, he said, adding, “It came to our notice later on and we immediately sought the cancellation of the agreement with PFI and it was done the next day. The NCP is doing bad politics on it and blaming the BJP for no reason.”

The former Pune mayor said, “Now, I wonder if the then state government had made the civic administration sign the agreement with PFI.”

Mohol has publicised a letter he had written to the civic administration in June 2020, when he was the mayor, in which he had sought an explanation why the agreement had been signed with PFI without informing the elected body. In the letter, he had demanded that the agreement should be cancelled immediately.

“The PMC has given the work to PFI for cremation of Covid-19 deceased in the city. The concerned organisation has been accused of doing controversial activities. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has cancelled the work given to PFI,” he had said.

He also said not a single NCP leader has condemned the PFI for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans. “It seems the NCP supports PFI and they should make this public. We are against PFI then as well as now,” he said.

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