The Shiv Sena is seeking a change in the term of reservation of electoral wards from the existing five years to 10 years. Senior Sena corporator and Standing Committee Chairman Yashwant Jadhav has moved a notice of motion, demanding that instead of five years the seat reservation lottery should be held every 10 years. The argument for reconsidering the existing rule is that frequent changes in reservation impact development works due to uncertainty of electoral wards.
Under the present rules, before every election, a lottery is held to decide which of the BMC’s 227 wards will be open for candidates from the open category and which will be reserved. In the 2017 BMC election, of the 227 wards, 149 were kept for the open category, including 74 for women and 75 for men. As per the section 5A of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, 1888, based on total electoral seats, the reservations are divided into Scheduled Tribe (ST), Scheduled Caste (SC), Other Backward Class (OBC) and women.
The uncertainty of the lottery means that a corporator, who has won from a particular ward, has no guarantee on whether he would be eligible to re-contest elections from the same ward in the next election.
“This process causes concerns among corporators on their future as they don’t know what reservation is going to become on their existing electoral seats. Anticipating the rejig, many corporators start working in nearby wards also and in such case there is a possibility that development works in their elected wards get affected. There is always uncertainty,” said Jadhav.
He added, “As delimitation of electoral wards takes place in every 10 years, similarly, the reservations of wards should be changed in 10 years rather than existing five years. This will help corporators do better work in their wards as they will get more time. For this, the MMC Act should be amended before the February 2022 BMC polls.”
A senior official from the BMC said, “There are 15 seats reserved for SC, two for ST, 61 for OBC and 74 seats for general women. Every year just before polls, the state election commission holds a lottery for change in reservation.” Corporators said that in some cases there are setbacks for siting corporators as due to change of seat reservation, they had to contest from neighbouring wards and they lost the elections.
Earlier, the Congress had also written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, demanding fresh delimitation of wards. Opposition leader Ravi Raj has alleged that before the 2017 elections, the BJP-led state government had changed the ward boundaries that had benefited the party.
Meanwhile, Jadhav said that after the notice of motion is cleared in the civic house, it will be sent to the state government for amendment in the MMC Act, 1888.
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