Bhopal, Oct 7 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon who had withheld approval to Kamal Nath governments proposed ordinance to amend rules and hold indirect mayoral elections may eventually clear the proposal soon.
The governor has already approved another amendment that provides for penal action against candidates giving wrong information in election affidavit. The penal action could be six months of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000.
Sources in the Raj Bhavan said the chief minister called up the governor over the phone on Sunday evening and reminded him that BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Gujarat already have the system of indirect elections in place. The governor is said to have agreed to clear the proposal.
Urban Administration Minister Jaivardhan Singh and principal secretary of the department Sanjay Dubey met the governor to apprise him of the government’s viewpoint. Even Madhya Pradesh had been electing its mayors and municipal heads through councillors and ward members 20 years ago when Jaivardhan Singh’s father Digvijay Sigh was the chief minister. The state government is within its rights to hold the elections as per its discretion.
Congress media vice president Abhay Dubey said that under Article 243 (W) of Constitution, the state has the right to conduct municipal elections as it desires.
“Now, the Kamal Nath government is returning to indirect elections because in 15 years of BJP rule, there was rampant corruption and perceivable arrogance of mayors.” Once elected the mayor did not listen to the corporators, Dubey said.
A BJP delegation, led by former minister and All India Mayor Council office-bearer Umashankar Gupta, met the governor to raise objections over the government’s plan to revert to the old system. Gupta told the governor that the change would breed corruption.
The BJP is also looking at legal options to oppose the amendment. The BJP central leadership is seized of the matter. Gupta is already in Delhi to meet party working president JP Nadda and senior leader Rajnath Singh.
“The direct election was introduced following 74th amendment to Constitution at the time of late Rajiv Gandhi as prime minister. In the state, it was implemented by Digvijaya Singh government. There is no point in going back on the decision, apart from the fact that it would breed corruption,” Gupta said.
The state cabinet had on September 25, proposed that the elected councillors or members of municipal bodies should elect mayors or municipal chiefs from among themselves. The selective amnesia of both the Congress and BJP flows from political expediency.
While the BJP had opposed direct elections to the top civic posts in Madhya Pradesh 20 years ago claiming it would lead to unfair practices and corruption it is extending the same reason to oppose the change. The party is uncomfortable now because it has Mayors in almost all corporations who have been elected directly.
The Congress has a larger share of councillors or corporators in the state but the bodies are headed by BJP. The ruling party therefore wants change in the rule. Now the state government is expecting amendment because the term of the most civic bodies is ending in December.
Earlier elections were to be held by December, but the state government lagged behind in delimitation of wards and civic constituencies. If the Governor delays the approval of the amendment bill Congress would end up losing hold on the civic bodies.