The tradition of ward formation continues

Tri-member system in all places except Mumbai

Mumbai: The decision to re-introduce multi-member ward system in the state’s municipal corporations was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet on Wednesday as part of a ploy to postpone the polls till the revoked political reservation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) is re-imposed.

The one member ward system prevalent in Mumbai Municipal Corporation will be maintained. Other Municipal Corporations will have three member wards and Municipalities will have two member ward system. In just 52 years, the Mahavikas Aghadi government has changed the ward system and maintained the practice of mixing wards with each other.

The Mahavikas Aghadi government had decided to change the multi-member ward system during the Fadnavis government. Accordingly, the law was changed in the winter session held in December 2019 by deciding to implement one member ward system in Municipal Corporations and Municipalities. Pavane decided to change the earlier decision in two years and re-implement the multi-member ward system instead of the one-member ward system.

This decision has been taken to provide facilities to the citizens as soon as possible and all the upcoming elections will be held according to the multi-member ward structure, informed Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde.

The State Election Commission had ordered 18 Municipal Corporations, including Mumbai, to form wards on the basis of one-member ward system only after the law was amended to conduct elections on the basis of one-member ward system. The process of formation of wards was started accordingly. The Election Commission was preparing to announce the polls for Kalyan-Dombivali, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur, Vasai-Virar and Aurangabad Municipal Corporations soon.

The Supreme Court’s cancellation of political reservation for other backward classes has created a major political crisis in the state. It included an attempt by the government to postpone municipal elections until a settlement was reached on the reservation of other backward classes.

However, the apex court had a few days back ruled that the state government could not issue any order to the commission to postpone the polls.

One member ward in Mumbai

The present one member ward system will be maintained in Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Given the huge population of Mumbai and the number of voters in the wards, it was not possible to form a multi-member ward. In 2016, the Fadnavis government had maintained the one-member ward system in Mumbai.

Changed ward structure strategy

1997 – Mayor’s Council in Mumbai and Nagpur. Within two years the system was abolished, a decision of the coalition government

2001 – Three member ward system in municipal corporations and direct election of mayor, decision of Vilasrao Deshmukh government

2006 – Multi-member ward system abolished and one-member ward reversed by Vilasrao Deshmukh government

2011 – Decision of Prithviraj Chavan government for two member ward system in Municipal Corporations and four member ward system in Municipalities

2016 – Four member ward system in Municipal Corporations and three in Municipalities. Direct election of mayor – Devendra Fadnavis government changed the policy

2019 – One member ward system in Municipal Corporations and Municipalities. The decision of the Uddhav Thackeray government as soon as it came to power

2021 – Three member ward system in Municipal Corporations and two in Municipalities. The Thackeray government reversed the earlier decision.

What will change mean?

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, the task of proving the backwardness of OBCs will come to a close, the authorities said.


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