Two months after coming to power, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has started a move to reintroduce direct elections for the post of mayors and chairpersons of smaller municipal bodies by revoking the decision taken by the previous Congress government.
The Kamal Nath-led Congress government had earlier promulgated an ordinance to restore a system of indirect elections that entailed councillors electing a mayor in municipal corporations and chairpersons in nagarpalikas and nagarpanchayats.
The ordinance undid the system that prevailed during the BJP regime, when voters cast two votes — one for their councillor and the other for the mayor or the chairperson of the nagarpalika or nagarparishad.
The BJP had won all 16 mayoral elections and a majority of the chairpersons in 378 nagarpalikas and nagarpanchayats belonged to the party. The terms of all 16 municipal corporations and more than 300 other bodies have expired.
While the Congress government had appointed officials to run the affairs of the municipal bodies whose terms had expired, the current Shivraj Singh Chouhan government’s plan to form administrative committees to manage their affairs has not gone through.
Sources told The Indian Express on Friday that the government has initiated a move to go back to the system of direct elections. A BJP leader said the Congress government favoured indirect elections because it was sure of tasting defeat in direct elections.
“After winning the 2018 Assembly elections, the Congress lost badly in the 2019 general elections. Apart from the popularity of the Prime Minister, what contributed to the Congress’s defeat was voters’ unhappiness over its rule of few months,’’ the BJP leader said.
Congress leader Bhupendra Gupta said indirect elections are held for the posts of mayor and chairpersons of smaller municipal bodies in a majority of states. “In the parliamentary democracy practised in the country, MLAs elect the chief minister and MPs elect the Prime Minister. The same should be the case in municipal bodies. In bigger municipal corporations, direct elections lead to conflicts between the mayor and councillors because power is concentrated in the former’s hands. When elected by councillors, the mayor takes care of each ward.’’
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