NEW DELHI: The much-delayed Delhi mayoral poll will be held on February 22 as Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena gave his nod on Saturday to convene the municipal House, a day after a Supreme Court order paved the way for the election.
The LG’s nod to convene the MCD House came hours after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recommended to him that the mayoral election be held on the said date.
Recommended MCD Mayor elections to be held on 22 Feb
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 18, 2023
”Recommended MCD mayor elections to be held on 22 Feb,” Kejriwal said in a tweet earlier in the day.
The development came a day after the top court ordered the issuance of a notice within 24 hours for convening the first meeting of the civic body to fix the date of the elections for the mayor, the deputy mayor and the members of the standing committee of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
In a shot in the arm for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the apex court also held on Friday that the members nominated by the LG to the MCD cannot vote to elect the mayor.
Officials at the Raj Niwas and the MCD said the LG has given his nod to convene the House and hold the mayoral poll on February 22.
”In exercise of powers conferred upon him under section 73 of the DMC Act, 1957, the Administrator, Hon’ble Lt Governor of NCT of Delhi, has refixed the adjourned first meeting of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on Wednesday, the 22nd of February, 2023,” read a notice issued by the civic body on Saturday.
The elections of mayor, deputy mayor and six members of the standing committee will take place at the meeting and the agenda will remain the same, it said.
A senior MCD official said three meetings of the House that were scheduled to be held on January 6, January 24 and February 6 were adjourned.
Delhi is set to get its new mayor next week after the three failed attempts of the MCD to hold the mayoral poll and much political bickering.
Hearing a plea moved by the AAP’s mayoral candidate Shelly Oberoi, who sought an early conduct of the election, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala directed on Friday that the mayoral poll shall be conducted at the first MCD meet and once elected, the mayor shall preside over the deputy mayor’s election.
The AAP had emerged as a clear winner in the MCD polls held on December 4, bagging 134 wards and ending the BJP’s 15-year rule in the civic body. The saffron party won 104 wards to finish second, while the Congress won nine seats in the 250-member municipal House.
According to the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act, 1957, the mayor and the deputy mayor are to be elected at the very first session of the House after the civic polls.
However, it has been more than two months since the municipal polls were held and the city is yet to get a mayor.
The municipal House has witnessed unprecedented developments since January 6, when it was convened for the first time after the civic polls. The House was adjourned following acrimonious exchanges between the members of the BJP and the AAP.
The second meeting of House on January 24 was briefly adjourned after the oath-taking ceremony and subsequently, adjourned till the next date by pro-tem presiding officer and BJP councillor Satya Sharma. The adjournment had prompted councillors, 13 MLAs and three Rajya Sabha members of the AAP to sit on a ”dharna” for nearly five hours in the chambers of the House — Aruna Asaf Ali Sabhagar — at the Civic Centre, demanding immediate holding of the mayoral poll.
Both the BJP and the AAP members had held each other responsible for the derailment of the proceedings.
The municipal House in Delhi was convened again on February 6 as the city hoped to get a mayor after much delay.
But it failed to elect a mayor for the third time, following a ruckus over the decision to allow the aldermen to vote in the mayoral poll, even as the AAP alleged a ”planned conspiracy” by the BJP to stall the process and said it would move the Supreme Court to seek a ”court-monitored” election.
Oberoi moved the apex court on February 7.
The court had, on February 8, sought the responses of the LG’s office, Sharma and others on her plea.
The AAP had alleged on February 6 that the mayoral poll could not be held as the BJP was ”strangulating democracy and the Constitution”, while the saffron party accused it of coming up with excuses to stall the election.
Sharma had also announced that the elections for the posts of mayor, deputy mayor and standing committee members will be held simultaneously, triggering protests from the AAP members, following which she had adjourned the House for a third consecutive time.
The AAP leaders had also said the LG should ensure that the mayoral poll is conducted without any hindrance.
As the matter reached the court, a hopeful AAP was expecting that its demand for a ”court-monitored” election would be fulfilled.
Kejriwal on Friday hailed the top court’s order on the mayoral poll, saying it was a ”victory of democracy”, and claimed that it had proved that the LG and the BJP were passing ”illegal and unconstitutional orders”.
On Saturday, the chief minister accused the LG of ”forcibly” trying to prevent the city government from presenting its views before the top court.
Addressing a press conference here, he alleged that Saxena tried to ”interfere in the administration of justice” and committed ”contempt of court”.
No reaction was immediately available from the LG’s office to the claims and allegations made by the AAP national convenor.
The AAP had vociferously apposed the nomination of 10 aldermen by the LG and Sharma’s decision to give them the right to vote to elect the mayor, the deputy mayor and the standing committee members.
Kejriwal said the Supreme Court foiled the ”conspiracy” hatched by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the LG to influence the mayoral poll and asserted that Oberoi will win the election since the AAP has the majority in the MCD.
The AAP staged a protest outside the LG’s residence on Saturday morning, demanding his resignation for allegedly supporting the ”BJP’s hooliganism” and delaying the mayoral poll.
Several AAP leaders, including MLAs Atishi and Durgesh Pathak, assembled at Raj Niwas Marg with banners and raised slogans demanding the LG’s resignation.
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said the saffron party welcomes the fixing of the date for the elections of the mayor, deputy mayor and standing committee members.
”We hope that the AAP will allow these three elections to be held on February 22,” he said, while claiming that they have ”information” that the ruling party in Delhi will disrupt the proceedings of the House after the mayoral poll.
The chief minister should commit that as in the MCD’s previous term from 2017 to 2022, the aldermen ”shall continue to have the right to vote in zonal committees”, Kapoor said.
Source: Press Trust of India