Mumbai: Elections to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are expected to be postponed as the civic body will have to undertake a fresh exercise in the remapping of its wards, from northwest to southeast Mumbai, in the wake of the state cabinet’s decision to increase the number of wards to 236 from 229. This makes it likely that the upcoming election scheduled for February may have to be postponed to April or May.
A senior Maha Vikas Aghadi minister told The Free Press Journal, “The BMC cannot simply add nine wards in the delimitation exercise which it has completed recently, but will have to revise it. It will have to conduct a fresh exercise after receiving directions from the State Election Commission (SEC). This will be possible after the state government issues an ordinance on increase in the number of wards as the state legislature session is not underway. There is every possibility that the election will be postponed by at least two to three months.”
When contacted, SEC Secretary Kiran Kurundkar said, “The SEC awaits the ordinance, after which it will give the necessary directions to the BMC.”
Delimitation is usually done after every 10 years. The state cabinet had recently approved an increase in the number of wards, with an aim to ensure that the total number of seats were commensurate with the rise in population. The BMC has rectified the boundaries of around 60 wards and 20 per cent have been changed.
As per the 2011 census, Mumbai’s population grew to 1.24 crore, a rise of 3.81 per cent over 2001.
Interestingly, the Maha Vikas Aghadi partners Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have launched poll preparations but have yet to decide on whether they will fight the upcoming BMC elections jointly or separately. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has urged Shiv Sainiks to focus on consolidating the party’s position among its traditional Marathi Manoos vote bank and also among non-Marathi voters, while playing up the party’s Hindutva agenda to take on BJP. On its part, the NCP has hinted that it is open to a tie-up with the Shiv Sena to increase its presence in Mumbai.
As far as the Congress is concerned, the party has time and again announced it will go solo but ultimately the decision has been left to the party high command.
In the case of the BJP, it has launched Mission 2022 in a bid to defeat its erstwhile ally Shiv Sena, unfurl the saffron flag atop the BMC and win the mayoral and deputy mayoral elections.
If the election is postponed, both the MVA and BJP will step up their outreach plans and aggressively chase after voters.
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