While the state says the step was taken as the administration is busy preparing for Assembly polls, a Mantralaya source revealed parties wanted to stay away from hurting egos by choosing one person over another
Anxious after its debacle in the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress-led state government has offered a pre-election gift to mayors and deputy mayors of eight civic bodies across the state, including Mumbai. The incumbent mayors and their deputies have been offered six months’ extension.
Sunil Prabhu shall be mayor of the city till March, 2015. File pics
While the official reason cited is the inability of the administration to conduct another election during the scheduled State Assembly polls, a government source told mid-day that the reason the decision was taken in order to not ruffle any feathers during the crucial period, by choosing one candidate over another. A special legislation was drafted by the state government for this provision, which was approved in the state legislature a few days ago.
While moving the bill, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that even though the tenure of the mayors and deputy mayors was fixed for a period of two-and-a-half years and the terms of few of them were to expire in June, July and September or October this year, it was expedient to temporarily postpone mayoral elections for a period of six months.
The CM contended that officers and staff at district collectorates, as well as police personnel, would be busy preparing for the State Assembly polls and performing post-election duties when the stipulated terms expired.
The government deemed it necessary to push ahead elections for the First Citizen by a few months, in order to rule out any possible overlapping of the said elections and any possible undue pressure on civic and police administration, potential law and order problems and inconvenience to citizens.
Mumbai Mayor Sunil Prabhu, whose term was to expire in September, shall be Mayor till March 2015. The terms of mayors of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad have also got extension with the state’s decision. The legislation has offered extension to presidents of municipal councils also.
The real deal
However, sources told this correspondent that the district administration wasn’t busy as it is being made out to be. The postponement was to avoid an ugly battle for the chair – aspirants who are denied an opportunity would create political problems for their parties that would have repercussions on the performances in the assembly polls.
“The aspirants for the posts and their supporters would have acted against the parties interests during the assembly polls, if they had been denied the opportunity. To keep the aspirants-in-waiting and current incumbents in good humor, the government got the bill approved and avoided any political clashes,” said an official from Mantralaya.