New Delhi: Ruling BJP today trounced rival Congress by winning the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation with comfortable margins, even as all five AAP MLAs chose to give the high-stake mayoral polls in the civic body a miss. Unlike last year’s SDMC mayoral polls in which Congress had lost to BJP by a solitary margin, this time BJP’s candidate Subhash Arya defeated senior Congress leader Farhad Suri by 19 votes.
71-year-old Arya, currently the chairman of SDMC’s standing committee, polled 60 votes, while Suri received 41. Five area MPs — Maheish Giri, Ramesh Bidhuri, Parvesh Saheb Singh Verma, Meenakshi Lekhi, and Parvez Hashmi, eligible to vote in the polls, were the early ones to exercise their franchise.
Aam Aadmi Party, however, chose to stay away from the polls, as all of its five newly-elected area MLAs and a councillor failed to show up, reducing the strength of electors from 107 to 101. Suri, who served as a Mayor during the period of the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), was anticipated to give an even fight to Arya, but fortune swung the BJP way, as the party maintained its supremacy in the civic body.
BJP has been leading all three corporations for the past few years, and had swept the last mayoral polls. The unified MCD was trifurcated into — North, South and East corporations — in 2012 during the Sheila Dikshit-led government. And, though Congress had won the Deputy Mayor seat in last polls, this time BJP wrested the post with a margin of 38 votes, which is double than that of the one registered for the mayoral seat.
BJP’s winning candidate Kuldeep Solanki bagged 69 votes while Congress’ Indu could get just 31, with the big margin fuelling speculation of “cross-voting”. One vote was declared invalid.
Currently, the 104-member SDMC House is down to 97 councillors as the rest left to contest Delhi Assembly elections. And, with 5 MLAs and 5 MPs from the area, the size of the electors had gone up to 107. The five MLAs who abstained are — Mahinder Yadav, Gulab Singh, Parmila Tokas, Sahi Ram and Narayan Dutt Sharma. AAP councillor Desraj Raghav also failed to turn up at the polls. Incidentally, Delhi SAD, which had earlier claimed that all its councillors had intended to “boycott” the elections, did participate in the polls. Shiromani Akali Dal was BJP’s ally in last Delhi Assembly polls and today all its three SDMC councillors cast their votes.
In the SDMC House, BJP and its allies have 53 seats while Congress has 36. The post of Mayor 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 also being in open category.
This year it was open category, while last year it was for the reserved category.