A third attempt to elect a Mayor in Delhi failed on Monday, 6 February after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillors staged a walkout.
Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Presiding Officer Satya Sharma while adjourning the house said, "Elections cannot be held in such an atmosphere. The house is adjourned until the next date."
This after the BJP levelled allegation of poaching on Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). AAP, on the hand, continued sloganeering against Sharma's decision to allow nominated councillors (aldermen) to vote in the election.
AAP leader Atishi also said that the party will move to the Supreme Court again for court-monitored mayoral polls within 10 days, reported NDTV.
What's the contention? In the MCD elections held in December 2022, the AAP won 134 out of 250 wards, with the BJP securing a distant second position with 104.
While AAP will win the Mayor post given its numbers, Sharma's decision to allow nominated members to vote will impact the election of the standing committee, arguably MCD's most powerful body.
Six of the 18-member standing committee were supposed to be chosen on 6 February. In this AAP will win three seats and two will go to the BJP. The fight is over the sixth seat, which may go to the BJP if the nominated members vote.
What happened in the previous sessions? The previous sessions convened on 6 and 24 January ended in a stalemate with the councillors of the parties engaging in verbal and even physical fights over the decision to allow nominated members to vote in the election.
According to the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, the administrator (the Lieutenant Governor) has the right to nominate the Aldermen, but the AAP said that the nominated members will be chosen by the Delhi government, citing the 2017 precedent.
AAP mayoral candidate, Shelly Oberoi, even escalated the matter to the Supreme Court of India, where the party sought a time-bound election and orders that the aldermen not be allowed to vote.
She, however, withdrew her petition after the court pointed out that the election was due on 6 February and a detailed hearing will stall it again.
Why are the Mayor polls important? In December 2022, the AAP, riding high on an anti-incumbency vote wrested power from the BJP in the MCD polls, unseating the latter after a 15 year rule over the civic body.
After the results were announced, Kejriwal thanked the people of Delhi for the clear mandate and “bringing change.”
It is, however, pertinent to note that the BJP, even in defeat, managed to increase its vote share by 3 percent as compared to the 2017 civic body elections.
While for BJP, managing to take control of the standing committee despite losing the election will be a huge victory, the AAP will also not want to lose control over the civic body after winning a historic mandate.