Rajat Sharma

The real reason behind the ruckus in MCD on Day One

rajat-sir There was ruckus in the first house meeting of the newly elected Municipal Corporation of Delhi on Friday, when AAP councillors rushed to the well when presiding officer Satya Sharma invited the 10 nominated councillors known as aldermen, to come and take oath. All these aldermen, from BJP, were nominated by the Lt. Governor. AAP councillors prevented the oath taking by standing on tables, shouting slogans and started jostling with BJP councillors. In the melee, several councillors were injured and had to be taken to hospitals.

As a result, no oath taking could take place and the elections of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and members of standing committees was left in the lurch. AAP and BJP councillors reached the dais, while some of them tried to snatch papers from the presiding officer. Scuffle broke out between AAP councillor Praveen Kumar and some BJP councillors. Security personnel entered the chamber, and in the melee, the podium was damaged. The presiding officer adjourned the meeting for an hour.

When the House reassembled, councillors from both sides started the ruckus, climbed on the presiding offer’s table and broke mikes. One AAP councillor lifted a chair in order to hit someone but was prevented by his colleague. The presiding officer adjourned the House again, came back after 15 minutes, warned the members of action, but when the melee continued, she adjourned the House for the day.

BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi reached Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital with seven party councillors, who received injuries. Thirteen injured AAP councllors went to Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Hospital for treatment. One councillor had to be taken on stretcher.

The House was decorated with flowers and garlands when the meeting began, but at the end of the day, after scuffles and unruly scenes, it looked like a war zone. There were broken chairs , tables and mikes lying all around. The presiding officer had to be escorted out with the help of marshals.

The presence of AAP MLAs and BJP MPs inside the house was because of the provision that 13 MLAs and all seven MPs can cast their votes in the election for mayor. AAP had come prepared with its 13 MLAs, who joined the ruckus.

The main cause behind the ruckus was the appointment of 10 aldermen nominated by Lt Governor. AAP leaders feared that BJP may try to win the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor. AAP MLA Atishi alleged that BJP was resorting to ‘cheating’ in order to elect its candidate as Mayor.

BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said the Lt. Governor had the powers to nominate aldermen and there was no question of ‘cheating’. AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj alleged that the presiding officer was supposed to ensure oath taking of new members and election of mayor only, but the elections of deputy mayor and standing committees were also included in the day’s list of business.

As per rules, nominated members can only vote in the elections of standing committees and they cannot vote in the elections for mayor and deputy mayor.

In the 250-member MCD, 7 Lok Sabha MPs, 3 Rajya Sabha MPs and 14 MLAs can cast their votes for the election of mayor. Out of the total of 274 votes, Congress had already declared it would not take part in voting, though it has 9 elected councillors. Leaving out these 9 votes, the total comes to 265 and the majority figure stands at 133.

BJP has 104 elected councillors, one MLA and 7 Lok Sabha MPs, and its voting strength, adding all these three, stands at 112.

AAP has 134 elected councillors, 3 Rajya Sabha MPs and `13 MLAs who can vote. Its voting strength stands at 150, seventeen more than the required majority vote. If 10 nominated aldermen cast their votes with BJP, the party’s total voting strength comes to 122, that is, less than the required majority vote. In such a situation, BJP cannot win the election of Mayor.

When the voters of Delhi have given a clear majority to Arvind Kejriwal’s party in MCD, and its victory in Mayor and Deputy Mayor election is almost final, the question arises: why this ruckus? What does the AAP leaders fear for?

The answer could be: mistrust. BJP can win the mayor election only if some AAP councillors indulge in cross voting. Kejriwal does not trust all his elected councillors. That is the reason why he wanted his own man to be appointed presiding officer to oversee elections of mayor and deputy mayor. But the Lt. Governor did not toe his line. This is the reason why AAP leaders are angry and their councillors stood up on the table and snatched papers to stop the House proceedings.

The second reason is, nominated aldermen cannot vote for mayor and deputy mayor elections, but they can vote for election of standing committees. In MCD, members of standing committees have financial powers and these are coveted posts. The actual battle is for the posts of chairmen of standing committees, and Kejriwal and his advisers want to scuttle the elections. That is why there were fisticuffs and ruckus on the first day of the House meeting. Friday’s shameful incident is only a trailer for the coming five years in MCD.

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