The state government is set to discontinue the practice of directly electing civic chiefs of municipal councils. The Cabinet on Wednesday is expected to formally approve a proposal of the urban development department in this regard.
The move is being seen as yet another significant reversal of a decision taken by the previous Devendra Fadnavis government, which had reintroduced direct election model for the posts of the president and deputy president in all such urban local bodies in May 2016.
Once the Cabinet approves the proposal, the department plans to immediately issue an ordinance, bringing the modification into force.
Sources said the urban development department has proposed modifications to the Maharashtra Nagar Parishad, Nagar Panchayat and Industrial Townships Act, 1965, for reverting to the model where presidents and deputy presidents are elected by municipal councillors.
The common minimum programme, drawn up by allies Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress before forming the government in the state, had earlier promised discontinuation of the direct election model.
There are 245 municipal councils in the state. In elections held since 2016, the direct election model had brought the BJP a lot of success. About 50 per cent of the councils that went to polls during the period had seen either a BJP leader or a BJP-backed nominee being elected to the president’s post.
Apart from the election process, the Uddhav Thackeray government is expected to bring down the term of the presidents and deputy presidents to two-and-a-half years. While the previous regime had granted additional financial powers to the council president and also ruled that a no-confidence motion against them cannot be brought before two-and-a-half years, the Uddhav government has decided to allow the admission of such a motion after one year. Changes have also been proposed to the financial powers enjoyed by the presidents.
But while the department has proposed that the new ordinance be applicable for all the elections after it is promulgated, the state law department has advised against applying it for bypolls in councils where presidents have already been appointed under the direct election method, contending that this would be “unreasonable and discriminatory” and could result in legal challenges. The Cabinet is expected to take a final call in this regard on Wednesday.
The Cabinet is also expected to witness a discussion on the ambitious plan to keep multiplexes, eateries, restaurants in some non-residential areas in Mumbai open round the clock.
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