Ahead of civic polls next year, the Shiv Sena, the ruling party in the BMC, is seeking a change in the term of reservation of electoral wards from the existing five years to 10 years. The matter will be discussed in the civic general body meeting to be held of February 9, 2021 for the approval of other members.
Senior Sena corporator from Byculla and Standing Committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav earlier this month moved a notice of motion, demanding that instead of five years the seat reservation lottery should be held every 10 years. Jadhav said after being approved by the general body, an amendment be made to this effect in the revised Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act 1888. He has urged that change in reservation term should be then implemented from the civic general elections to be held in February 2022.
Jadhav said, "As delimitation of electoral wards is done every 10 years, the reservations of electoral wards too can be changed in 10 years rather than existing five years. This will help corporators to serve and focus on the development work in their electoral ward as they will get more time. Hence the MMC Act 1888 should be amended before the February 2022 BMC polls.”
As per the existing rule, before every election, a lottery is held to decide which of the BMC’s 227 wards will be open for candidates from the open category and which will be reserved. In the 2017 BMC election, of the 227 wards, 149 were kept for the open category, including 74 for women and 75 for men. As per the section 5A of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, 1888, based on total electoral seats, the reservations are divided into Scheduled Tribe (ST), Scheduled Caste (SC), Other Backward Class (OBC) and women.
Jadhav argues that the existing rule of frequent changes in reservation every five years impact development work due to the uncertainty of electoral wards.
"The uncertainty of the lottery means that a corporator, who has won from a particular ward, has no guarantee on whether he would be eligible to re-contest elections from the same ward in the next election. Anticipating the change in reservation, many corporators start working in nearby electoralwards also and in such case, there is a possibility that development works in their elected wards get affected," added Jadhav.
In December 2020, the Congress Leadership in the BMC had demanded a fresh delimitation of all 227 electoral wards in the city, in the run-up to the civic polls. Alleging that demarcation or redrawing of ward boundaries ahead of 2017 civic polls were done to favour the BJP, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in BMC wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, that a fresh delimitation should be done.
Currently, there are 15 seats reserved for Scheduled Caste, two for Scheduled Tribes, 61 for Other Backwards Class (OBC) and 74 seats for general Category women. "Every year just before polls, the state election commission holds a lottery for change in reservation," said a BMC official.
Corporators have claimed that due to change of seat reservation, they are forced to contest from other / neighbouring wards and many lose the elections.