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AAP faces crucial test in upcoming MCD mayoral polls ahead of LS elections

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New Delhi, April 1: As the countdown to the Lok Sabha elections begins, the political arena in Delhi witnesses a shift in focus towards the impending Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) mayoral polls scheduled this month. All eyes are now on whether this electoral event will serve as a litmus test for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), as the capital braces for this crucial showdown.

The MCD House, comprising 250 members, holds significant sway in Delhi’s political landscape. Presently, the AAP holds the majority with 134 councillors, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) commands 104 seats, with the support of an Independent councillor, elevating its tally to 105. The Congress trails behind with nine seats, while the remaining members consist of two independent councillors.

Mayor Shelly Oberoi, Deputy Mayor Aaley Iqbal, and Leader of the House Mukesh Goel currently hold key positions in the MCD. The question on everyone’s mind is whether AAP leader Shelly Oberoi will retain the position of Mayor or who will be AAP face this time.

This political battle marks the first major electoral event after AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest. However, despite AAP’s numerical advantage, the race for the mayor’s chair has transformed into a heated political battleground, particularly in the aftermath of events from 2023.

A controversy erupted last year following the appointment of 10 Aldermen by Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena, triggering allegations of bias from the AAP camp. Aldermen, appointed by the L-G, bring expertise in civic matters to assist the MCD House, now under AAP’s leadership since January 2023 after three consecutive terms of BJP rule, in its decision-making processes.

AAP strongly criticised Saxena, alleging that the appointed Aldermen maintain affiliations with the BJP, thus questioning the impartiality of the selection process.

The matter was even heard in the Supreme Court which had observed that giving power to the lieutenant governor to nominate aldermen in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) would mean that he could destabilise the democratically elected civic body.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said: “Because these people will sit in standing committees…by taking 10 people of his choice he can effectively… they have the voting power then…”

However, at present the sources within the MCD indicate that talks of “councillors jumping ship” have intensified following the arrest of AAP convener Kejriwal by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the excise policy case.

Moreover, the frustration among MCD councillors reportedly stems from the absence of crucial committees, such as the standing committee, special and ad-hoc committees, zonal and ward committees, and education committee, since AAP assumed power in December 2022.

“Ever since AAP came to power, only three people (Mayor, Deputy Mayor and leader of the house) have received positions in the MCD,” said the sources.

AAP sources alleged that apart from the arrest of its convener, another reason for the perceived threat among its councillors is the scrutiny faced by AAP-MCD in-charge Durgesh Pathak, summoned by the ED in connection with the liquor policy case

IANS

 

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