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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Rajasthan civic polls: How division of municipal corporations in three cities helped Congress outdo BJP

Despite the government citing better governance as the reason behind the fresh delimitation of the three municipal corporations and bifurcating them, party insiders as well as those in the opposition saw it as a means to raise the seat tally of the Congress in the civic polls.

Written by Deep Mukherjee , Edited by Explained Desk | November 13, 2020 5:49:04 pm
rajasthan congress, rajasthan municipal corporations, rajasthan congress bjp municipal seats,Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota municipal corporations, express explainedRajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot (C) with senior Congress leaders at a meeting with the party MLAs at his residence in Jaipur. (PTI/File)

In October last year, Rajasthan urban development and housing minister Shanti Dhariwal announced that the Congress government in the state has decided to divide the Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota municipal corporations into two separate civic bodies each. Dhariwal had said the decision was taken after considering the fact that the three cities have a population more than 10 lakh and that the public had a greater expectation from the elected representatives.

He had also said that two municipal corporations in each city would result in faster pace of development and effective implementation of policies. Dhariwal had also cited the issue of increase in encroachments and the large size of the wards. He had also mentioned that the heritage part of Jaipur had to be segregated so that effective conservation and restoration could be ensured in accordance with the UNESCO guidelines

Why did the Congress govt divide the municipal corporations?

Despite the government citing better governance as the reason behind the fresh delimitation of the three municipal corporations and bifurcating them, party insiders as well as those in the opposition saw it as a means to raise the seat tally of the Congress in the civic polls. Traditionally, the BJP has always had an upper hand in the civic elections in the three cities. In the past two decades, the BJP has always had more councillors than the Congress in Jaipur and the latter couldn’t form the Board even once during this time.

In the 2014 municipal elections, the Jaipur Municipal Corporation had a total of 91 wards while Jodhpur and Kota had 65 wards each. In Jaipur, the BJP had won 64 out of the 91 wards while the Congress could bag only 18 wards in the 2014 civic elections. Similarly, the BJP had won the majority of wards in the Jodhpur and Kota municipal corporations as well. While the BJP had bagged 39 wards in Jodhpur, it won 53 of the 65 wards in Kota in the last municipal elections.

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In such a scenario, the delimitation of these three municipal corporations increased the number of wards in the city including in areas under those assembly constituencies which were won by the Congress in the 2018 state elections, thereby giving the Congress a chance to win more wards.

What effect did the delimitation have on the municipalities?

Following the delimitation, the Jaipur Municipal Corporation was divided into two civic bodies – Jaipur Heritage and Jaipur Greater. The Jodhpur and Kota municipal corporations were divided into two municipal corporations each – Jodhpur North, Jodhpur South and Kota North and Kota South.

As a result, in Jaipur, the Jaipur Heritage municipal corporation now has 100 wards while the Jaipur Greater municipal corporation has 150 wards. This has increased the total number of wards in the city from 91 to 250. In Jodhpur, the Jodhpur North and Jodhpur south municipal corporations have 80 wards each, increasing the total number of wards in the city from 65 to 160. Similarly, Kota north has 70 wards while the Kota south municipal corporation has 80 wards, increasing the total wards in Kota from 65 to 150.

Therefore, as compared to the last municipal elections, this year these three cities saw an increase of 339 municipal wards.

How did this prove to be an advantage for Congress?

An analysis of the delimitation exercise reveals that with the increase in the number of wards, the Congress’ chances of winning the majority in at least one of the six newly formed municipal corporations also increased.

For example, the newly constituted Jaipur Heritage municipal corporation has 100 wards and they are in the five Assembly constituencies of Amer, Hawa Mahal, Kishanpole, Civil Lines and Adarsh Nagar. In the 2018 Assembly elections, Congress has won all seats except Amer

Interestingly, Amer assembly constituency, which the BJP won in 2018, has only five wards while the remaining 95 wards in the newly formed civic body fall in the areas of Assembly constituencies that the Congress had won. This automatically gives an advantage to the Congress as this area also has a substantial population of Muslim and the Scheduled Caste voters.

After the results, it was found that in Jaipur Heritage, Congress had won in 47 wards while the BJP emerged victorious in 42 wards. Later, the Congress formed the Board by securing support of independent councillors.

Similarly, the Jaipur Greater municipal corporation, where the BJP secured a clear majority of 88 wards, covers most of those assembly constituencies which the BJP had won in the last state elections. The wards in Jaipur Greater are situated in the Assembly constituencies of Vidhyadhar Nagar, Jhotwara, Sanganer, Bagru and Malviya Nagar. The BJP had won three out of these five Assembly seats in 2018.

In the results declared on November 3, of the total 560 wards in the six corporations — two each in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota — Congress won 261 against BJP’s 242, while 57 were won by others.

As a result of this division, the Congress won a clear majority in the newly formed civic bodies of Jodhpur North and Kota North while the BJP won in Jaipur Greater and Jodhpur South. Later, with the help of independents, the Congress formed Boards in Jaipur Heritage and Kota South as well. It also won the four mayoral positions in these municipal corporations.

The party now controls four of the six municipal corporations in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota – two on account of winning a clear majority while in two it secured the support of independents to get a majority.

What has been the BJP’s reaction?

The BJP has termed the delimitation exercise of wards by the state government as a “political conspiracy”. Before elections, BJP MP and Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal had said that the Congress had realised that the BJP had more public support in cities, which would lead to Congress winning fewer seats in civic polls. He had said also that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was afraid that the Congress won’t get any mayoral post in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota as long there was one municipal corporation,

After the results were declared, state BJP president Satish Poonia said that despite “discrepancies in delimitation and voting, along with misuse of power”, the Congress couldn’t turn the results in its favour. Poonia said the Congress couldn’t win in its “so-called vote bank” areas and the party failed to live up to its claim of winning six of these municipal corporations and could secure a clear majority in only two civic bodies.

The Congress, on the other hand, has cited the municipal poll results to say that the public has put a stamp of approval on the party’s government in the state and also on the developmental works undertaken in the last two years.

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