The state government Saturday introduced a bill in state legislative assembly for postponing elections for the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayors in municipal corporations and presidents in municipal councils by six months.
Elections in 195 municipal councils and seven to eight municipal corporations including Mumbai and Thane were due. The Congress and NCP are in power in a majority of these civic bodies, with the latter controlling about 60 per cent of the municipal councils in question.
While the normal term for such posts in two and a half years, sources said that both parties feel that an extended tenure for current heads to such civic bodies would lend them an advantage during the assembly poll. A NCP leader explained, “A new head would take time to exercise control over matters in the civic body, whereas an existing person would find it easier to leverage his powers for the party’s interest during elections.”
The opposition indicated its plans to oppose the move tooth and nail. Even as minister of state for Urban Development Uday Samant was introducing the legislation, opposition legislator Mangesh Sangle, who belongs to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, protested.
Officially, the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan-led department has defended the move arguing that holding of elections in the run up to assembly polls would place unnecessary burden on the civil and police administration and could lead to law and order problems.
Following the crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha, the ruling Congress, NCP combine is desperate to reverse fortunes in time before assembly polls.