The Mayawati government's move to change the local bodies election process in Uttar Pradesh has drawn flak from political parties, with the Congress accusing the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party of trying to capture the elected bodies through the backdoor. The local bodies polls are due in 2011.

One of the more significant changes proposed in the Gazette notification issued on May 11, 2010 to amend sub-section (2) of section 87 and section 540 of the Uttar Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1959, is that the elections will not be held on party lines. The amended clause states: “Election to the post of corporators, members, chairmen and mayors shall not be contested on the basis of political parties.”

Another change pertains to the election of the mayors and chairmen of municipal corporations and nagar palika parishads. It says: “The State Election Commission shall call upon the municipality to elect chairman or mayor, as the case may be.”

This is a clear departure from the current practice of people directly electing mayor, chairmen, corporators and members belonging to different political parties. This system of election was followed in the 1996, 2001 and 2006 elections. The amended section to be called ‘The Uttar Pradesh Municipalities (Election of Members, Corporators, Chairmen and Mayors), Rules, 2010' proposes a ‘general election' for the “purpose of constituting a new municipality.”

Terming the move anti-democratic, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh told journalists here on Wednesday that the BSP was wary of contesting the civic polls, as it had no base in urban areas. Accusing the government of issuing the notification without anyone's knowledge, Mr. Singh alleged that the move smacked of ulterior motives.

BJP president Surya Pratap Shahi said his party was opposed to the move and had complained to Governor B.L. Joshi.

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