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Friday, June 18, 2021

BMC writes to State Election Commission, casts uncertainty over civic body elections

If the elections are postponed, the municipal commissioner will become the administrator. Navi Mumbai and Vasai-Virar municipal corporations are already being run by administrators.

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai |
Updated: May 29, 2021 2:44:20 am
BMC writes to state EC, casts uncertainty over civic body electionsBefore elections are held, the BMC administration notifies wards based on population estimates. It also undertakes a ward reservation exercise and redraws ward boundaries, which is called delimitation. (Representational Image)

Anticipating a third wave of Covid-19, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) administration has written to the State Election Commission (SEC) seeking instructions on civic body elections which is schedule to be held in 2022, and how to prepare for it.

Following this, the SEC has called a meeting with BMC’s election department next week.

Before elections are held, the BMC administration notifies wards based on population estimates. It also undertakes a ward reservation exercise and redraws ward boundaries, which is called delimitation.

Many of these preparatory activities are done based on the latest census numbers to find out the population strength of each locality. However, with the 2021 census work yet to commence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, BMC officials said that they do not have access to the latest population data.

“The census could not take place amid the pandemic. There is no clarity if the election can be conducted on the basis of the 2011 census numbers. Also, no steps have been taken on changes in electoral ward reservations or delimitations of wards. Even if we start preparations now, it will still take us a lot of time to complete this exercise, as there are only nine months left for the elections,” said an official from BMC’s election department.

Last week, the department had written to SEC head U P S Madan seeking instructions on preparations for the upcoming elections. On Friday, a meeting was held between Additional Municipal Commissioner Ashwini Bhide and department officials on the preparations and the challenges ahead.

“The decision on whether to postpone the elections or hold it on schedule will be taken by the State Election Commission,” said Sunil Dhamne, Joint Municipal Commissioner.

“We have sought clarity on whether the polls will be conducted as per schedule or postponed. If the elections take place next year, we have to factor in Covid-19 guidelines while preparing for the polls,” an official said.

If the elections are postponed, the municipal commissioner will become the administrator. Navi Mumbai and Vasai-Virar municipal corporations are already being run by administrators.

The last time BMC elections were postponed was in 1990 when the corporation’s term was extended for two years. However, subsequently, the rule was changed. As per the new rules, in case the term of the corporation ends, it will not be extended but the civic body will be helmed by the commissioner, who will act as the administrator.

There are 227 electoral seats in BMC. While the number of electoral wards will not change, the change in ward boundary is due. In 2017, Shiv Sena had again come to power in the country’s richest municipal corporation. In the 227-member corporation, Sena has 97 corporators and BJP 83.

Despite repeated attempts, U P S Madan did not respond to calls and messages.

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