After over two months of delay, Delhi will get its new mayor on Wednesday as the mayoral poll will kick in. This comes following a Supreme Court order after three failed attempts by the municipal body to hold the election to the top post in the past.
The top court had on February 17 ordered the issuance of a notice within 24 hours for convening the first meeting of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to fix the date of elections for the mayor, the deputy mayor and the members of the standing committee of the civic body.
The election to the posts of mayor, deputy mayor and six members of the standing committee will be held on February 22 after Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena gave his nod to convene the municipal House last week.
The court issued the order after hearing a plea moved by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) mayoral candidate Shelly Oberoi, who had sought an early conduct of the election.
In a shot in the arm for the ruling AAP, the apex court also held that the members nominated by the L-G to MCD cannot vote to elect the mayor.
According to the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act, 1957, the mayor and the deputy mayor are to be elected in the very first session of the House after the civic polls.
However, it has been over two months since the municipal elections were held on December 4 last.
A month after the high-stakes municipal polls, the House had convened for the first time on January 6. It had adjourned following acrimonious exchanges between members of the BJP and the AAP.
The second and third meetings called on January 24 and February 6 also failed to carry out the exercise, and were both adjourned without electing a mayor, triggering much political bickering among parties in the two months since the civic polls.
The crisis also impacted the annual budget proceedings and the schedule of taxes for year 2023-24 was passed by the Special Officer of the MCD on February 15, since the deliberative wing has not come into place.
According to the norms, the schedule of taxes has to be passed by the House before or on February 15.
However, the remaining budget is expected to be passed by the House before March 31, as required, since the new deliberative wing led by a mayor will come into place on February 22.
As per the direction from the L-G, the House that will convene on Wednesday will be the reconvening of the adjourned first House that was held on January 6.
“In exercise of powers conferred upon him under section 73 of the DMC Act, 1957, the Administrator, Hon’ble Lt Governor of NCT of Delhi, has refixed the adjourned first meeting of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on Wednesday, the 22nd of February, 2023,” reads a notice issued by the civic body on February 18.
The election of mayor, deputy mayor and six members of the standing committee will take place in the meeting and the agenda will remain the same, it says.
The municipal House has witnessed unprecedented developments since January 6.
The second House held on January 24 was briefly adjourned after the oath-taking ceremony and was later adjourned till next date by pro-tem presiding officer and BJP councillor Satya Sharma.
The adjournment had prompted councillors, 13 MLAs and three Rajya Sabha MPs of the AAP to sit on a dharna for nearly five hours in the chambers of the House — Aruna Asaf Ali Sabhagar — at the Civic Centre, demanding immediate polls.
Both the BJP and AAP members had held each other responsible for the derailment of the proceedings.
The municipal House in Delhi then convened again on February 6 as the city hoped to get a mayor.
It, however, failed to elect a mayor for the third time in a row in a month following ruckus over the decision to allow aldermen to vote in the poll, even as the AAP had alleged a “planned conspiracy” by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to stall the process and said it would move the Supreme Court to seek a “court-monitored” election.
The petitioner, Oberoi, had moved the apex court on February 7.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha and Justice J B Pardiwala, during a hearing on Friday, directed that the election of the Delhi mayor shall be conducted at the first MCD meet and once elected, the mayor shall preside over the deputy mayor’s election.
The AAP had emerged as a clear winner in the December 4 polls, bagging 134 wards and ending the BJP’s 15-year rule in the civic body. The BJP won 104 wards to finish second, while the Congress won nine seats in the 250-member municipal House.
The electoral college for the election of mayor comprises the 250 elected councillors, seven Lok Sabha and three Rajya Sabha MPs from Delhi and 14 MLAs.
The Delhi Assembly Speaker has nominated 13 AAP and one BJP member to the House.
The total number of votes in the mayoral polls are 274. The numbers game favours the AAP, which has 150 votes against the BJP’s 113.
(With PTI inputs)