Uddhav Thackeray is said to have rejected Rahul Shewale's resignation as member of the BMC Standing Committee; while the Representation of the People Act clearly says that a person cannot be both an MP and an MLA, it is mum on local bodies
In a literal double standard, Rahul Shewale, once a local corporator, is now both that and a Member of Parliament. While this isn’t anything that falls foul of the law, it certainly looks like the Shiv Sena has squeezed the book to find a get-out and let Shewale continue as a corporator.
According to the Representation of the People Act, any person who is a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) cannot be an MP. They have to resign from either post within 14 days of being elected so as to assume/retain the other office.
Newly-elected Sena MP Rahul Shewale celebrating his victory. File pic
There is, however, no counterpart to this stipulation in the local governance. As far as municipal matters are concerned, one may continue as a city councillor even if they are an MP or an MLA. Legal experts feel queasy with this law.
“Every law should be amended with time, including the election-related law,” said lawyer Uday Warujikar. He also said that the Representation Act and the Municipal Corporation Act are both disparate. “We cannot say that there is a loophole, although an amendment is necessary.”
While Shewale offered to resign from the posts of corporator and member of the BMC standing committee, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, sources say, is not keen to let him go. He may allow him to continue holding both the posts.
At least for the next six months, until the assembly elections are over, Rahul (Shewale) will be holding both the posts, if no legal issues arise,” said a Sena source on the condition of anonymity.
For his part, Shewale is in the clear. “I have handed in my resignation as corporator as well as standing committee member to the party president. The party will make the decision,” he said. Narayan Pathade, municipal secretary, said that any corporator elected to legislature of Parliament may continue till the current corporal term expires.
There are many precedents to the Shewale paradigm, when corporators elected as MLAs have enjoyed their tenure. Former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal held the mayoral post from 1985-86, after he was elected as MLA.
Former chief minister and Congress leader Narayan Rane held the post of BEST committee chairman, while he was MLA. Corporators Ravindra Waikar, Yogesh Sagar, Prakash Sawant, Rajhans Singh, Rameshsing Thakur, Aslam Shaikh and Mangesh Sangle entered the legislative assembly in the last state elections, but completed the remainder of their roughly two-and-a-half-years-long tenures.
And the people say
Citizen groups feel that their representative should hold only one public post at a time. “The law should be amended in a way that one person holds one public office at a time,” said James John, coordinator for Action for Good Governance working in India (AGNI) NGO.
“Shewale will not be able to attend corporation meetings now, and obviously, his ward will be affected. How much attention would he be able to give to his civic post? This may lead to a ‘proxy governance’, like Shewale might appoint a person to do local work.
This system would also give an incentive to wrongdoers. People who want to indulge in illegal acts like unauthorised construction or stealing water may exploit this situation. He cannot do justice at all,” said John. GR Vora, member of a citizen group of F-North ward, says this sends out the wrong message to the people.
“Despite there being no such rule, Shewale should resign as corporator and the BMC should go for a by-poll, so some other person can do justice to the post. People have voted for you for the nation’s larger interest.
So you should do your job in Parliament instead of local body.,” said Vora, adding, “If Shewale holds both the posts, he would send wrong message of being a greedy politician.”