Amid the ongoing power tussle between the BJP-led Central government and the AAP-led Delhi government, mayoral elections for the Municipal Council of Delhi (MCD) were postponed for the third time since the MCD election results were declared on December 4, 2022.
Following the House adjournment on February 6, an embattled AAP decided to move the Supreme Court, seeking Court-monitored elections for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor in Delhi within 10 days. (The AAP had won 134 seats against the BJP’s 104 in the 250 wards civic body election, but the BJP has been eyeing the post of Delhi mayor.)
A ruckus broke out over the AAP’s strong objection to voting rights for aldermen—10 councillors nominated by Lieutenant Governor (L-G) V.K. Saxena, who represents the Central government in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The protesting AAP members said that the nominated members cannot vote in House meetings as per the provisions in the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act.
Sharply reacting to the charges, BJP leader and Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi told reporters: “The presiding officer has decided that aldermen can vote. The AAP is trying to rig the polls.”
Disturbances since election
Previously, the House was adjourned during oath-taking by the nominated councillors on January 6 amid high-voltage scenes wherein the AAP and BJP members exchanged blows, and then again on January 24. According to the Act, the mayor and the deputy mayor are to be elected in the first session of the House after the election.
The AAP, meanwhile, has resented the L-G’s appointment of Satya Sharma as presiding officer. It has recommended Mukesh Goyal for the post after declaring him as leader of the House in the MCD.
On February 4, the AAP accused the BJP of betraying Delhi residents after getting the MCD Budget passed “unethically” through the bureaucracy, which is controlled by the Centre, even before the elections for the post of mayor and deputy mayor were held.
Speaking to mediapersons, AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said: “The Budget gives the detailed breakup of the funds that an elected government would spend on fulfilling poll promises. The Central government has passed the Budget through the bureaucracy, which is illegal.”
The ongoing standoff between the Delhi government and the L-G has intensified in the recent months. On February 2, L-G Saxena held a high-level meeting of 26 departments ahead of the G20 summit, which is scheduled to be held on March 1. But Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy, Manish Sisodia, did not attend the meeting. A few days back, AAP members led by Kejriwal held a protest march against the L-G and the Central government for allegedly blocking the functioning of the elected government.
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