In a U-turn, the Rajasthan government on Monday decided that chiefs of urban local bodies will be chosen through indirect election.
Mayors and municipal chairpersons elected directly by people “usually ignore councillors”, affecting development works, urban development and housing minister Shanti Dhariwal said while briefing the media about cabinet decisions.
The announcement is a major policy shift as after forming the government in the state in December 2018, chief minister Ashok Gehlot had reintroduced direct election of municipal body chiefs, replacing indirect election introduced by the erstwhile the BJP government.
Dhariwal said: “When a directly elected mayor or chairperson is from one party and majority in a corporation or municipality is with another party, it creates barriers in development.”
The election to 193 urban local bodies in the state are due in November. There are seven municipal corporations, 34 municipal councils and 152 municipalities in the state.
The BJP reacted sharply on the announcement, saying the Congress government’s fear over municipal elections in the state was once again visible.
On the BJP’s allegation, Dhariwal said, “When they (BJP) changed to indirect elections in 2014, did they foresee their defeat? Was BJP afraid then?”
Notably, the first direct elections of mayors and chairpersons of urban local bodies were conducted in 2009 when the Congress government led by Gehlot was in power in the state.
Accusing the BJP of creating an atmosphere of hate and violence, Dhariwal said it was necessary to return to the old mode of indirect elections of mayors and chairpersons to counter the BJP’s divisive policies.
The minister said the decision was taken after consultation with former councillors, those planning to contest and others.
“Sedition charges are being levelled against intellectuals and in same way Congressmen, businessmen and common people are troubled, which is affecting the economy. Efforts are being made to suppress people’s voice. In view of such scenario, conducting direct elections will be against people’s wishes,” said Dhariwal.
In indirect elections, he said, people can question councillors as they chose a mayor. When last time direct election of mayor took place in Jaipur – the board had BJP majority and the mayor was from the Congress, he said, adding that there used to be disagreement, which affected development.
BJP state unit president Satish Poonia said the Congress government has taken a U-turn from their manifesto, where they had promised to hold direct elections.
The Congress was hoping that there caste politics would give them opportunity but after abrogation of Article 370, the wave of patriotism again started in the country under Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s leadership, he said.
Oct 15, 2019 10:54 IST