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Aruna Asaf Ali was Delhi’s first mayor, Shelly Oberoi first after unification of civic bodies

NEW DELHI: Delhi got a woman mayor on Tuesday in AAP’s Shelly Oberoi and she will step into the footsteps of freedom fighter Aruna Asaf Ali who was chosen to the top post in 1958 when the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) came into being.

Oberoi defeated BJP’s Rekha Gupta by a margin of 34 votes. The chambers of the House in which the mayoral election took place — Aruna Asaf Ali Sabhagar — is named after the first mayor.

Delhi got its new mayor on the fourth attempt since the earlier three meetings were stalled amid ruckus by AAP and BJP members, the last one over voting rights being given to the Lt Governor-appointed nominated members.

Last week, Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena gave his nod to convene the municipal House for holding the mayoral election following a Supreme Court order.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi had come into being in April 1958. It had began its journey from the historic 1860s-era Town Hall in old Delhi and in April 2010, was shifted to the swanky Civic Centre complex.

The position of mayor wielded a lot of influence and carried huge prestige till 2012 when the corporation was spilt into three separate civic bodies — North, South and East municipal corporations — with each having its own mayor.

However, last year, they were reunified and the MCD again came into existence, with the appointment of a Special Officer in May 2022.

Oberoi who got 150 votes in Wednesday’s mayoral poll, is also now the first mayor of Delhi after the unification of the the three civic bodies. Minutes after taking charge, she told the House, ”We have to work together to fulfill the aspirations of people”.

The mayor thanked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, and the people of Delhi. She also thanked Delhi Lieutenant Governor Saxena.

”My thanks are due also to the Supreme Court, because of whose order the mayor election was held today peacefully,” Oberoi said.

Portraits of Ali still adorn the chambers of the old municipal House at Town Hall and at offices at the Civic Centre. A prominent street in the city was also named after her.

The unification of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (104 wards), the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (104 wards) and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (64 wards) happened last year after the Centre brought a legislation to unify them.

It also capped the total number of wards at 250.

The mayor and deputy mayor of Delhi were elected on Wednesday, over two months after the December 4 civic polls.

The post of mayor in the national capital sees five single-year terms on a rotation basis, with the first year being reserved for women, the second for open category, third for reserved category, and the remaining two again for the open category. Delhi will thus got a woman mayor this year. The civic polls was the first after the three corporations were unified into the MCD and a fresh delimitation exercise was carried out, reducing the total number of wards from 272 in 2012 to 250.

Thus, after the mayoral poll, the national capital got a mayor for the city as a whole after a gap of 10 years.

Law scholar Rajni Abbi was the last to be elected to the top post in the MCD in 2011 before its trifurcation.

Several former mayors had welcomed the decision to unify the three civic bodies, and pitched for according ”greater power” and ”longer serving tenure” for the post of mayor.

Source: Press Trust of India



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