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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Maharashtra: Cabinet decision on delimitation takes BMC poll preparation back to square one

Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena’s MVA allies have also alleged that this will affect the Shiv Sena's chances of winning the coming elections, as the “delimitation was, in the first place, carried out to benefit Shiv Sena's corporators in Mumbai.”

bmc election, bmc polls, Eknath shinde, Thackeray, shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackeray, Aditya Thackeray, Mumbai latest news, Maharashtra news, Indian ExpressThis is also likely to further push the civic elections forward, at least by another month. A senior civic official said, “BMC will now carry out the process of ward reservation lottery, and prepare voters’ list. (file)

THE Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government’s reversal of the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s decision on the delimitation of wards is seen as yet another setback for the crisis-ridden Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, aimed at hurting its prospects in the upcoming civic elections.

The Cabinet decision has also flushed over two months of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) election preparations down the drain. Following Wednesday’s decision, BMC will now redo the lottery for ward reservations and carry out the process of preparing voters’ lists, this time for the original 227 wards. Over the past two months, it had completed this process for 236 electoral wards.

Thackeray-led Shiv Sena’s MVA allies have also alleged that this will affect the Shiv Sena’s chances of winning the coming elections, as the “delimitation was, in the first place, carried out to benefit Shiv Sena’s corporators in Mumbai.”

Bhalchandra Shirsat, BJP leader in BMC, said, “The rigging of ward boundaries done by Shiv Sena will be set aside by this decision. The ward boundaries were clearly marked in such a way as to benefit Sena’s own corporators. With that advantage gone in the coming elections, Sena’s chances are clearly affected.”

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This is also likely to further push the civic elections forward, at least by another month. A senior civic official said, “BMC will now carry out the process of ward reservation lottery, and prepare voters’ list.

However, we will wait for the State Election Commission to announce a time table for the same. There will be no question of chalking out electoral ward boundaries all over again, as we are basically reverting to ward boundaries from 2017 civic polls.”

According to the civic administration, BMC spent about a month drawing up ward boundaries for 236 electoral wards, and another 15 days for preparing voters’ lists as per these wards.

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A senior official from the SEC said, “We are waiting for this to become a law in some way, for an ordinance to be passed. Once we receive a copy of the ordinance, we will take a look at what procedure needs to be followed by the local body, and issue a notification to the effect. It is too soon to say if this will delay the elections.”

Shirsat said, “There is enough proof Sena had rigged delimitation. No one was happy with the outcome, not even its own allies in MVA. The Congress repeatedly demanded scrapping of delimitation, and NCP leaders in BMC raised many objections to the ward boundaries. Moreover, as per the census report of 2011 which was finally published in 2014, ward boundaries could have been redrawn in 2017 elections. Sena was in power in the state with BJP during that time, and did not demand for delimitation. Now based on the same census data, why did the Sena feel the need for delimitation?”

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Ravi Raja, former leader of the opposition in BMC, said, “Now, at least it will be a fair election. We have further demanded that reservation lottery should happen taking into consideration all wards, without any human intervention, that reservation should take place for a period of 10 years, and not every term. Moreover, the electoral ward reservation should be done separately considering each administrative ward.”

Milind Mhaske, from Mumbai-based NGO Praja foundation, said, “Keeping the politics of the issue aside, we cannot keep delaying elections. Mumbai has always presented a benchmark for India’s democratic process, and now it seems we are in a regressive state for not holding elections. They must be conducted on priority.”

First published on: 04-08-2022 at 02:06:54 am
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