Former Union minister of state Milind Deora has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde asking him to scrap the recent delimitation and demarcation exercise where Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wards were redrawn and reserved, and sought that the process be re-initiated in a transparent manner.
The Congress leader said that the exercise should be carried out by an independent committee, and not by BMC administrator and Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal. The Congress, in the past, had complained of Chahal’s proximity to former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Ahead of the much-delayed BMC elections in Mumbai, a ward reservation lottery draw was held last month where 21 of the 29 Congress corporators saw their wards’ reservations changed. Upset Congress corporators alleged wrongdoing in the ward allocation and said preferential treatment was being given to the Shiv Sena. Opposition leader in the BMC Ravi Raja even called it “a systematic approach” by Chahal “to finish the Congress”.
“As part of the Maharashtra government’s delimitation and demarcation exercise to redraw and reserve wards based on gender and caste in the BMC, suggestions and objections were sought in the month of February 2022. Nearly 800 objections were received by BMC and the State Election Commission, none of which were considered. As a result, the delimitation and demarcation of the ward boundaries were carried out to benefit one party only,” Deora has said in his letter to Shinde on Tuesday, referring to the Shiv Sena.
In his letter, Deora alleged that the BMC “maliciously redrew boundaries of 20 out of 30 wards won by Congress municipal councillors in 2017” and this was done “to severely disadvantage Congress”.
Moreover, in May 2022, the gender reservation was also carried out in an arbitrary fashion to ensure that 21 out of 30 sitting Congress municipal councillor wards got reserved for women, the letter added. Several Congress municipal councillors are appealing these decisions in court, Deora said, adding that the process followed was “against the spirit of democratic principles and free and fair elections”.
Deora also said that to increase the number of wards from 227 to 236, a fresh population census should be carried out first. However, the BMC’s delimitation and demarcation exercise was carried out ignoring even the 2011 census, Deora said, pointing out that this was “unwarranted and unjustified”.
“I am sure I speak on behalf of all political parties while demanding that all parties must be taken into confidence while this process is being undertaken,” the former South Mumbai MP said, seeking urgent intervention on behalf of the Congress municipal councillors who have been affected by the reservation process.