After much delay in appointing the leader of opposition due to legal issues, the BMC’s legal department has now said that a leader from the third largest party — in this case the Congress — could be appointed as the leader of opposition.
On Monday, during the general body meeting, the issue was discussed after a legal opinion was given to the Mayor, Vishwanath Mahadeshwar. In the civic elections held in February, the Shiv Sena had won 84 seats, the BJP 82 seats, followed by the Congress 31 seats. The confusion over the appointment of leader of opposition rose after the BJP decided not to accept any posts in the BMC but to extend support to the Sena. This is probably the first such instance in the history of the civic body, said an official from the legal department.
Citing the provisions of 37 (A) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the legal officer said the issue of appointing the leader of opposition came under the jurisdiction of the mayor.
Referring to the two verdicts of the High Court, given in case of Thane and Akola municipal corporations, the legal officer concluded that the post could be offered to the third largest party if the second largest party refused to accept it. “The mayor has the prerogative to decide on the issues as per the legal provisions. So, using the mayor’s powers and considering two HC verdicts, the second largest party should be invited to take the post of leader of opposition. If the second largest party refuses to accept it, then the third largest party should be invited to take the post,” the legal officer said.
The mayor, during the general body meeting, asked the BJP group leader, Manoj Kotak, whether the BJP wanted to take up the post of opposition leader. Kotak said the party did not want to take up the post, but it would “snatch” it from the Congress if it did not function properly. The mayor has now decided to write to the BJP, seeking its denial in writing before announcing the leader of the Congress as the opposition leader. It would be to avoid any legal issues in future, said an official.