Congress leader Milind Deora on Wednesday urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to scrap the delimitation and demarcation of ward boundaries in Mumbai, alleging that it was done to benefit only the Shiv Sena.
The former Mumbai Congress chief and MP wrote to the chief minister seeking urgent intervention on behalf of Congress councillors “whose wards have been manipulated to benefit one party”.
As a part of the state government’s delimitation and demarcation exercise to redraw and reserve wards based on gender and caste in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, suggestions and objections were sought in February 2022. Nearly 800 objections were received by the civic body and the State Election Commission, but none of them were considered, Deora said in the letter.
“As a result, the delimitation and demarcation of the ward boundaries were carried out to benefit one party only,” he alleged.
He further stated that the civic body had maliciously redrawn boundaries of 20 out of 30 wards won by Congress councillors in 2017, to severely disadvantage the party. One of these wards includes that of Leader of Opposition Ravi Raja.
Moreover, in May 2022, the gender reservation was carried out in a similarly arbitrary way to ensure that 21 out of 30 sitting Congress councillor wards got reserved for women, he said.
Several Congress councillors are appealing these decisions in court, and many believe that the process followed was opaque and against the spirit of democratic principles and free and fair elections, Deora wrote.
“In order to increase the number of wards from 227 to 236, a fresh population census must be carried out first. However, the delimitation and demarcation exercise was carried out ignoring even the 2011 census, which I am sure you will agree is unwarranted and unjustified,” the Congress leader said.
He urged Shinde to scrap the BMC’s current delimitation, demarcation and reservation and re-initiate the process in a transparent manner.
In the interest of fairness, it should be carried out by an independent committee and not by the civic body’s administrator, he said.
The Congress leader said he was making the demand on behalf of all political parties and they must be taken into confidence while this process is being undertaken.
“I seek your urgent intervention on behalf of all Congress Municipal Councillors whose wards have been manipulated to benefit one party,” Deora said.