AAP in Attack Mode as MCD Reunification Bill to Come Up in Lok Sabha Today

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With the bill for reunification of the three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCDs) listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha on Friday, fresh salvos are likely to be fired between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The union cabinet on Tuesday approved the reunification of North, East and South Delhi municipal corporations, which means that the unified civic agency will be eligible to get funds directly from the Centre and will not have to depend on the Delhi government.

The Delhi Municipal Corporation Bill (Amendment) 2022 proposes “appointment of a special officer to discharge functions of municipality till the first meeting of MCD under the amended act”.

This could defer the elections to the unified municipal body. The AAP had protested against the unification, alleging it was a ploy to delay the polls.

THE WAR OF WORDS

After the approval, Delhi’s ruling AAP claimed the BJP’s nervousness prompted the move. The BJP, meanwhile, accused the AAP government of starving the corporations ruled by the saffron party of funds, thereby stalling the civic services and then blaming the BJP for poor governance during the elections.

Delhi CM and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal told reporters outside the Delhi Assembly on Wednesday, “We [the AAP] will leave politics if the BJP gets the MCD polls held [timely] and wins them. The BJP says it is the biggest political party in the world, but it got scared by a small party and a small election. I dare the BJP to hold timely MCD polls,” he said.

“Postponement of Delhi Municipal Corporation elections by BJP is an insult to the martyrs who had made sacrifices to establish democracy in the country by driving the British out of the country. Today they are postponing the Delhi Municipal Corporation elections due to fear of defeat, tomorrow they will postpone the elections of the states and the country,” Kejriwal tweeted soon after.

THE CHANGE

The total number of seats in the unified MCD will be capped at 250, with reserved seats for scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST). Currently, the total seats for the three MCDs stand at 272. This means fresh elections could be held after redrawing of the municipal constituencies. Also, a process of delimitation could delay the elections further.

The amended law also proposes to give more power to the central government. The bill states: “In sections 1, 3A, 5, 6, 32A, 55, 56, 57, 193, 330A and 499, for the word ‘Government’, wherever it occurs, the words ‘Central Government’ shall be substituted.”

The word ‘Government’ in the original bill referred to the state government.

The objective of the bill, as stated, is to reduce the financial stress on the three municipalities and give better services to Delhi residents.

“Trifurcation of the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi was uneven in terms of territorial divisions and revenue generating potential. As a result, there was huge gap in the resources available to the three corporations compared to their obligations,” the bill stated.

It added that over a period of time, financial difficulties have increased, leading to delayed payment of salaries and retirement benefits to their employees. “The delay in the payment of salaries and retirement benefits have resulted in frequent strikes by the municipal employees, which have not only affected civic services, but also created concomitant problems of cleanliness and sanitisation,” the bill stated.

“The level and quality of delivery of municipal services in the capital of India needs to be in consonance with its unique status and cannot be subjected to vagaries of financial hardship and functional uncertainties,” the bill states.

The bill proposes to ensure a robust mechanism for synergised and strategic planning and optimal utilisation of resources and greater transparency, improved governance and more efficient delivery of civic services for the people of Delhi.

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