A city Congress delegation met the deputy chief minister and petitioned him to also restore the number of constituencies to what it was before
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis (second from right) with Congress leaders (from left) MLA Zeeshan Siddique, former union minister Milind Deora and MLA Amin Patel on Tuesday
Congress leaders have petitioned Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to scrap the delimitation of Mumbai’s civic wards, and restore the number of constituencies to 227, which was increased to 236 by the previous government, allegedly to benefit the Shiv Sena.
Led by former union minister Milind Deora, a city Congress delegation met Fadnavis at his Mantralaya office on Tuesday. Deora had written a letter to Fadnavis and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde asking them to withdraw the restructuring of wards and reservation for various classes, including women.
Deora had said in the letter that the 800 objections—both political and apolitical ones—were not taken into consideration by the then state government. “The letter needs to be taken into account now. The new ward boundaries and quota benefit only the Sena. At least 20 out of 30 wards the Congress won in 2017 have been restructured wrongly and caused a massive loss to the Congress. Reserving opposition leader Ravi Raja’s ward and many others' is an act that damages the democratic process,” Deora wrote.
Deora said on Tuesday that the Congress has expressed its concerns to Fadnavis and asked him to scrap the previous ward boundaries. “Mumbaikars deserve a free and fair election. A particular party has drawn boundaries to its benefit. This must change as it was immoral and against the Constitution,” he said, demanding the process be undertaken once again. Fadnavis was not available for comment, but earlier he had said that he had received several complaints in this regard, from political parties, including the BJP.
Poll process almost done
The election process is in the final stages. The electoral rolls have been prepared and the political reservations were decided after the Supreme Court restored the Other Backward Class (OBC) quota in the local body polls. Doing the delimitation once again would mean making an amendment to the existing municipal laws in the forthcoming legislative session, and preparing the electoral rolls and reserving wards afresh, depending on the outcome of restructuring, if any. For scrapping delimitation, the BJP and Shinde's faction of the Sena will need to be on the same page because Shinde's Sena too would contest the Mumbai civic polls.
The ward boundaries were redrawn when Shinde held charge of the Urban Development Department that controlled the BMC. However, Shinde had little say in Mumbai because the Thackerays’ was the final word when the father-son duo led the party affairs. Yet, it would be interesting to see how Shinde considers the issue concerning the department that he wants again in the sharing of power with the BJP. The cabinet has not been expanded yet and portfolios distributed.