TAMIL NADU

Indirect elections to municipal bodies

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Setting at rest the prolonged speculation over the mode and timing of municipal elections, the Rajasekhara Reddy Government on Saturday announced that the Chairpersons of these bodies would be elected indirectly and that the polls would be held during August-September.

A decision opting for the indirect route of choosing the chiefs of municipalities and municipal corporations was taken by the Cabinet at its meeting here.

Briefing reporters later, the Minister for Information, Mohd Ali Shabbir, said voters would elect councillors/corporators who, in turn, would elect the Chairpersons/ Mayors. The Government would shortly send proposals to the State Election Commission for holding elections in August-September.

Another departure from the existing system was granting voting right for the co-opted members, who represent various sections such as women and minorities.

The Minister cited three `strong' reasons to justify the Cabinet's decision to go in for indirect elections. Firstly, it would help avoid a clash between the Chairpersons and councillors, who were both directly elected now. In 26 municipalities, they belonged to rival political parties. The Cabinet took a serious note of these clashes, and felt that they were affecting the development of towns and cities.The clashes were witnessed often in Vijayawada while the Major of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation had often expressed helplessness to take up developmental works in the face of the Committee being more powerful.

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Mr. Shabbir said two-thirds of the States, including West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh had opted for indirect elections. Moreover, the Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by the Municipal Administration Minister, K. Ranga Rao, the indirect route. The Cabinet held the view that the indirect elections would, in no way, violate the Constitution amendments as feared in certain quarters nor would it transgress democratic norms.

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