Keen contest on the cards for CMC chiefs’ posts

Jeevan Chinnappa

Elections to the two posts in the Madikeri civic body will be held on Tuesday

BJP is keen on bagging the posts

Congress is looking for a split in the BJP

Madikeri: Deputy Commissioner K.R. Niranjan has ordered conducting of elections to the posts of president and vice-president of the Madikeri City Municipal Council (CMC) on June 24.

The BJP, which has emerged as the largest party with 13 seats, is keen on bagging the posts.

Councillors G.M. Satish Pai, K.S. Ramesh and P.D. Ponnappa are the contenders from the BJP for the post of president, which is reserved for the general category. Councillor Vasanta Keshava too seems to be in the race. Ms. Keshava is also an aspirant for the post of vice-president along with councillor Lata Bangera. This post is reserved for BC “A” (woman).

Sources in the BJP told The Hindu that a meeting held on Saturday failed to select a candidate for the post of president. Party leaders, including K.G. Bopaiah, Sunil Subramani and Seetalakshmi Ramachandra, had advised the members to settle the issue on their own and choose a candidate by Monday.

It is said that if Mr. Ponnappa is preferred, there could be a split in the BJP, with three disgruntled members moving towards the Congress.

The moves of the Congress appear intriguing. If councillor H.M. Nanda Kumar’s plans materialise (in case of a split in the BJP), the Congress could wrest power from the BJP. The Congress has nine members in the CMC and is banking on the support of two JD(S) members, two independents, a BSP member and a Samajwadi Party member, taking the total number to 15. It is looking forward to the support of at least three disgruntled BJP members to take its strength to 18. If there is no split in the party, the BJP, which has 13 members, can look forward to the support of three BJP rebels, who won as independents, taking its number to 16. It can bank on the votes of MP D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Madikeri MLA M.P. Appachu Ranjan.

The process of elections suffered as P.P. Chami and other members had filed a petition in the High Court against increasing the number of wards in the CMC from 23 to 31. Mr. Chami had argued that wards could not be increased to 31 since the population of Madikeri was less than 40,000. The number of wards could be increased to 31 only if the population of Madikeri was between 40,000 and 50,000 as per Section 11 of the Karnataka Municipalities Act.

It is said that the petition of Mr. Chami is likely to come up for hearing on Monday. A single judge Bench had disposed of the petition stating that elections could not be held to 31 wards. But since the elections were over, 31 members could continue until the next elections. Subsequently, when the Deputy Commissioner notified elections to the posts of president and vice-president on April 29, a certain Gangadhar filed a petition in the High Court seeking a stay, which was granted for six weeks. This application has been disposed of.

The Government has upgraded Madikeri Town Municipal Council to CMC by virtue of Madikeri being the district headquarters city. Population was not taken into account while carrying out this exercise. Population of Madikeri during the 1991 census was 28,750, while it went up to 32,496 in the 2001 census. Elections to 31 wards were held on September 28 last year. Elections were also held simultaneously to the 11-member Somwarpet Town Panchayat, 13-member Kushalnagar TP and 16-member Virajpet TP. Election officer Akram Pasha told The Hindu on Sunday that nomination papers would be received on June 24 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Scrutiny would take place from 11 a.m. to 11.20 a.m. and nomination papers could be withdrawn between 11.20 a.m. and noon.

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