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AAP, BJP tug of war stalls mayoral elections again

MCD House adjourned, AAP says the BJP was looking for an excuse to disrupt the meeting; hooting, misbehaviour led to ‘environment not suitable’ to hold Mayor’s election: presiding officer

January 25, 2023 01:24 am | Updated January 26, 2023 10:20 am IST - New Delhi

AAP councillors and MLAs shouting slogans at the Civic Centre on Tuesday.

AAP councillors and MLAs shouting slogans at the Civic Centre on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Another bout of ruckus marred the meeting of the newly elected Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which was adjourned again without electing a Mayor, prompting AAP councillors to hold a sit-in at the House till late in the evening on Tuesday.

The House meeting was reconvened on Tuesday, weeks after the first session on January 6 was adjourned following acrimonious scenes between AAP and the BJP. The House erupted into chaos after AAP leaders protested over presiding officer Satya Sharma’s – a BJP councillor appointed by the L-G to preside over the meeting – decision to first administer the oath to the nominated persons (aldermen), instead of the elected councillors.

The first House meeting sees all councillors being administered the oath, following which the election to the office of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are held. The councillors also elect six members to the civic body’s standing committee. Apart from the 250 councillors, Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha MPs, three Rajya Sabha MPs and 14 MLAs nominated by the Delhi Assembly Speaker also cast their vote in the mayoral polls.

AAP has a clear majority in the House with 134 councillors, followed by the BJP with 104 councillors.

On Tuesday, despite initial murmurs of protests over Ms. Sharma’s decision to first administer the oath to the aldermen, the oath-taking process was completed without hiccups. However, just as the process to hold the Mayor’s election began, a heated argument broke out between BJP and AAP councillors, said Ms. Sharma. Soon, she adjourned the House till the next date. However, both AAP and BJP councillors said they did not indulge in any activity to disrupt the proceedings.

“Despite repeating her decision to let the aldermen take their oath first, we cooperated and maintained peace in the House. The BJP was looking for an excuse to disrupt the meeting since they did not want a Mayor to be elected. Their actions were unconstitutional. We are sitting in the House till the mayoral elections are held,” said AAP councillor Mukesh Goel. The AAP councillors, however, left the House later in the evening.

Ms. Sharma told The Hindu that despite making multiple appeals to “maintain peace”, the meeting saw frequent hooting, sloganeering, usage of foul language and instances of misbehaviour, which led to an “environment that was not suitable” to hold the Mayor’s election.

“All preparations for the election were in place but within a gap of two minutes, during which the process for the election was being initiated, ruckus had broken out. I had no other choice but to adjourn the meeting. The next date will be decided by the Lieutenant-Governor’s office,” said Ms. Sharma.

Following the adjournment, AAP councillors and senior leaders, including the 13 MLAs and three Rajya Sabha MPs who vote in the mayoral election, remained seated while senior AAP leader Durgesh Pathak went on to conduct a headcount, adding that the party has the lead to win the mayoral polls.

“It’s an insult to the people that the House was adjourned without any concrete reason,” said Mr. Pathak.

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