Multi-member wards in municipalities again?

|| Sanjay Bapat

The game of postponing elections due to cancellation of OBC reservation
MUMBAI: The ruling Mahavikas Aghadi is planning to postpone the polls by implementing multi-member ward system once again, realizing that the Election Commission will not appreciate the role of all political parties in postponing the polls till the revoked political reservation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) is re-imposed. If there is a change in the ward structure, the elections will be postponed automatically. It is understood that there is a proposal to implement three member ward system in municipalities and two member wards in municipalities.

After the change of power in the state, the Mahavikas Aghadi government decided to abolish the multi-member ward system and introduce one-member ward system in the Municipal Corporations and Municipalities. With the municipal elections approaching, the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčimplementing multi-member ward system started once again. The proposal is expected to be tabled at the next cabinet meeting.

Decisions for political convenience?

The cancellation of OBC’s political reservation led to a panchayat of the ruling party. The BJP blasted the Mahavikas front for canceling the reservation. To find a way out of this, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took the opposition into confidence and held two meetings in a row. The State Backward Classes Commission has started the process of proving OBCs backwardness. The political reservation of the OBC community will not apply until this backwardness is proven. Elections for Kalyan-Dombivali, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur, Vasai-Virar and Aurangabad Municipal Corporations may be declared soon. If elections are declared without OBC reservation in five Municipal Corporations, there may be a strong reaction. The displeasure of the OBC community is unaffordable to the authorities. The Supreme Court order also blocked the way for postponing the polls, citing Coronation. At such a time, the authorities plan to change the structure of the wards and go to the polls. Leaders of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP are not convinced that the one-member ward system will bring success everywhere.

What caused the change?

The State Election Commission has instructed the Municipal Corporations to form wards in 18 Municipal Corporations including Mumbai as per the one member ward structure. Accordingly the formation of wards began. If the multi-member ward system is implemented again, the whole context will change. The legislature will have to change the law. New wards will have to be formed and reservations will have to be drawn. This whole process will take six to eight months. Elections may be postponed till next April-May. Until then, it can be said that the work of proving the backwardness of OBCs can come to a final stage.

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