BJP to implement 'Chandigarh plan' to secure MCD mayor's post

Niraj Sharma
19 Jan 2023
BJP to implement 'Chandigarh plan' to secure MCD mayor's post

AAP's Shelly Oberoi (Left); BJP's Rakhi Gupta (Right)

New Delhi: Days after securing the post of Mayor in Chandigarh Municipal Corporation through “management”, the Bharatiya Janata Party is hoping to repeat the success in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi as well.

It is learnt that the BJP is trying to put in place a numbers game which could help ensure the installation of its Mayoral candidate in the MCD's top post. Losing the MCD after 15 years, the saffron party has made it a prestige issue to secure the Mayoral post.

BJP candidate Anup Gupta had earlier this week won the Chandigarh mayoral election, defeating AAP nominee Jasbir Singh by just one vote. Congress with six votes and SAD with one abstained from voting.  AAP had 14 votes and the BJP 15 (one ex-officio vote from a Member of Parliament) with a candidate needing at least 15 votes to be elected.

With anti-defection laws not applicable in municipalities, the BJP is keeping its options open for ties up with councillors from various parties in the MCD. This allows elected councillors to switch sides without fear of losing their election. The anti-defection laws are applicable in Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

In MCD polls, AAP had won 132 seats in the 250-member civic body, as against the BJP's 104. Congress with 9 councillors and 3 independents can also play a vital part in the election that can go down to the wire. Along with these parties, the MPs from Delhi are also eligible for voting in the polling. This was the first election to the MCD since its reunification in May 2022.

An expected close contest makes it vital for the BJP to secure the votes of AAP councillors or to persuade them not to vote in the Mayoral polls.

While BJP has fielded Rekha Gupta, AAP has nominated Shelly Oberoi for the mayoral contest.

It is understood that fearing a break in its ranks, the AAP had created a ruckus ahead of the oath-taking ceremony of newly elected councillors at MCD’s civic centre. AAP and BJP councillors were seen raising slogans and clashing with each other ahead of MCD's Mayoral polls on January 6.

Though the new date for the crucial election is yet to be finalized, it is likely to take place in the last week of January or the first week of February. And the AAP is keeping its councillors closely guarded to stop any defections, sources added.

With the contest for the top job in MCD expected to go down to the wire, the BJP's national general secretary organisation BL Santhosh is understood to be monitoring the situation closely.

The BJP is also hoping to have their member as head of the standing committee, an important post to hold due to its financial powers. However, that too will depend on whether it is able to manage to win over a few councillors, including AAP, Congress and Independents, during mayoral elections.

Options before the BJP

The saffron unit is trying various combinations to secure the crucial poll to one of the richest and most powerful civic bodies in the country.

NewsDrum had earlier reported that despite defeat in MCD, BJP eyes Mayor post through 'management'. Broadly, the saffron unit is working on the following three strategies:

  • The opinion on the voting rights of Aldermen in such polls is also divided and the BJP may use it to its advantage. The voting rights of Aldermen aren't clearly defined and the saffron unit can use the grey area to get them to vote in the close election. Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has already appointed 10 Aldermen to the House, affecting the calculations further. The appointment has also come under attack from the AAP, which has termed it illegal.
  • The BJP may be helped by the Congress which may be “persuaded” through back channels to not abstain from voting in the election.
  • The saffron unit is trying to win over independents, three of these votes can prove crucial in a Chandigarh-like tight contest.
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