MUMBAI: With an eye on the upcoming elections to the BMC and other civic bodies in the state, the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has approved a multiple-member ward system, instead of a single ward, in the municipal corporations and councils.
However, the cabinet has retained the single-member ward system in the BMC.
The decision came after the Sena, which leads the MVA government, decided to make a concerted bid to retain power; meanwhile, its estranged ally, the BJP, has launched Mission 2022 to unfurl the saffron flag atop the civic body by winning the mayoral poll.
However, in other municipal corporations and councils, the cabinet has approved a three-member ward system. Nationalist Congress Party leader and deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was insisting on a two-member ward system elsewhere -- except in Mumbai -- on the plea that a three or four-member ward system may benefit the BJP. After an exhaustive debate, the cabinet unanimously passed a resolution adopting a single-member ward system in the BMC and a three-member ward system in Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, Kolhapur, Solapur and other municipal corporations.
The BJP-led government headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had introduced a four-member ward system before the 2017 municipal elections in nine local bodies, while in Mumbai there was a single-member ward system.
The cabinet decision was needed as the government had amended the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act and the Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Towns Act, 1965, to introduce a single-member ward system in the state.
However, after taking into account the handling of health-related issues, especially during the Covid-19 situation, the government decided to go back to the multiple-member ward system, except in the BMC, in order to address civic issues more expeditiously.
A senior government officer said voters generally prefer to cast their vote for the party and not the candidate in a multi-member ward system. However, in a single-member ward system, the candidate is more important than the party.
Urban Development minister Eknath Shinde said there will be a two-member ward system in municipalities and municipal councils and one-member ward system in nagar panchayats. “With more members, it will be easy to carry out development work vigorously,” he said.
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