Following three failed attempts to elect the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Supreme Court’s intervention in the matter, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates won the elections held on February 22.
The elections were held in the chamber of the Municipal House and on MCD premises amid heavy deployment of civil defence and paramilitary personnel. AAP’s Shelly Oberoi was elected Mayor, while Aale Mohammad, who is the son of AAP MLA Shoaib Iqbal, was chosen the Deputy Mayor. Oberoi became Mayor with 150 votes against 116 of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee Rekha Gupta. Aaley Mohammad Iqbal defeated the BJP’s Kaml Bagri by 31 votes (147 votes against 116).
However, political observers believe that the mayoral electoral victory is unlikely to bring any major respite to Delhi’s embattled AAP government. The Delhi government is currently locked in a fierce conflict with the BJP-led Central government over separation of powers as the National Capital Territory, which has a Lieutenant Governor appointed by the President of India besides the elected Chief Minister, a Cabinet and a Legislative Assembly, is neither a Union Territory nor a full-fledged State.
The civic body was forced to postpone the mayoral elections due on January 6, January 24, and February 6 because of hostility between the Delhi government and the Centre. In the municipal elections held in December last year, the AAP had emerged victorious, ousting the BJP, which had ruled the civic body since 2007. The party won 134 wards in the 250-member Municipal House against the BJP’s 104. The Congress won the nine seats to come in the third place.
The AAP moved the Supreme Court on February 6 seeking court-monitored elections opposing the voting rights for 10 aldermen, councillors nominated by Lieutenant Governor V.K. Saxena. A bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala invoked Article 243R of the Constitution and Section 3(3) of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, rejecting the arguments of the LG and the MCD that nominated members are entitled to vote. The bench ordered that “the prohibition on nominated members exercising the right to vote in terms of S 3(3)(b)(1) shall apply to the first meeting where the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor are to be elected.”
The AAP contended that the 10 aldermen would favour the BJP, while the party opposed the decision to hold elections for the post of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and members of the Standing Committee simultaneously.
“The BJP, Centre and LG tried to stop us unconstitutionally, but the people of Delhi have made it happen,” AAP leader and Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia wrote in a series of tweets as he congratulated Shelly Oberoi and Aley Iqbal on their victory. In the wake of the ongoing political slugfest between the BJP and the AAP, Sisodia’s comments were not devoid of rancour and hostility. “The goons have got defeated, the public has won,” he wrote on twitter.
Sisodia’s comments came soon after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs gave sanction to prosecute him under the Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with the Feedback Unit snooping case. Previously, the Central Bureau of Investigation, in a report, had claimed that the AAP had set up a feedback unit for political intelligence gathering soon after coming to power in Delhi in 2015. “Many more cases will be filed against us as the Aam Aadmi Party grows,” Sisodia tweeted, describing the Home Ministry’s move as “cowardly”.