Sharad Pawar/Uddhav Thackeray/ Sonia Gandhi
Sharad Pawar/Uddhav Thackeray/ Sonia Gandhi

Mumbai: In a major blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government will scrap the previous government's decision on direct elections for municipal council presidentship as well as the voting rights given to eligible farmers to choose members and chairmen of the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) in their jurisdiction.

The state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, at its meeting slated for Wednesday, will give an approval. MVA allies Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, which have recently won the posts of the Zilla Parishad president and vicepresident, defeating BJP, want to repeat it in the ensuing elections to the municipal council president and APMC members.

After the cabinet's decision, the municipal council president will be elected by the councillors and not directly by the people, which was the case before 2002 in the state. This will be applicable in 223 municipal councils in Maharashtra, which are categorised as A, B and C depending upon the population.

The government may promulgate ordinance to amend the Maharashtra Municipal Council, Nagar Panchayat and Industrial Township Rules 1965. Further, the members of APMC and various market panels that function under the APMC will be elected by the members of gram panchayats, agriculture credit societies, and multi-purpose co-operative societies and not by farmers.

This will be done as per the provisions of the Maharashtra APMC (Development and Regulation) Act of 1963. BJP had argued that providing voting right to farmers was necessary to make the election process wider, open, transparent, and representative, as the election by the members of gram panchayats, agriculture credit societies, and multipurpose cooperative societies was open to manipulation, political rigging, and opaqueness.

An MVA minister told FPJ, "The BJP-led government, in May 2016, had introduced the direct election of the municipal council president and provided voting rights to eligible farmers to elect members of APMC in March 2017.

These two decisions were aimed to checkmate Congress and NCP, who had their presence in municipal councils and enjoyed predominat position in most of the 300 plus APMCs. BJP gained as the party won the municipal council president election in most of these bodies. Further, BJP could make inroads in APMC.''

However, the MVA government will revert to the earlier provisions to corner BJP. As reported by FPJ, the MVA government last week scrapped the BJP-led government's decision of electing four corporators from every ward in the municipal councils and municipal corporations, except Mumbai. The government has revived the one ward, one corporator system

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