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BMC polls: New maps, challenges

As most corporators have not retained wards, political parties will have to look for candidates, strategies

mumbai Updated: Oct 04, 2016 00:19 IST
BMC chief Ajoy Mehta shows the document.
BMC chief Ajoy Mehta shows the document.(HT Photo)

The new electoral ward maps announced on Monday have led to chaos in political parties. Just months before the 2017 civic elections, corporators are set for a long battle. As HT had reported, almost all existing ward boundaries in the city have changed. This means, a majority of political leaders have not retained their wards and will now have to search for another territory. The routine reservations for women, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Class for Citizens have added to corporators’ troubles.

This means corporators may no longer contest from your existing wards, and your current wards may no longer have the same ward number as during the 2012 elections. In the next few days, political parties will see a scramble for tickets to contest elections.

Established names such as Sena’s Kishori Pednekar, BJP’s Prakash Gangadhare and Congress’ Devendra Amberkar among many others are in for trouble.

Smaller parties such as Samajwadi Party and Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) may face a major setback. Group leaders of both parties have lost the seat they had won five years ago.

Sandeep Deshpande, MNS group leader and face of the party in the civic, body has lost the seat as his ward has been reserved for Scheduled Caste (women). SP group leader Rais Shaikh’s existing ward and three wards in nearby areas have been reserved for women. The face-off for the upcoming BMC elections is likely to be between the ruling ally partners – Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

A senior BJP leader said, “The Sena, too, will have to shuffle its candidates. This will directly pitch us against their candidates, if we do not get into an alliance.”

The BMC on Monday announced the new electoral wards. While wards reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates have increased, there is a dip in general category wards. The SC wards have increased from 11 in 2012 to 15, of which eight are reserved for women. The number of general open category wards has gone down to 75 from 77 in 2012, and open category wards for women candidates has gone down to 74 from 76 in 2012.

Seven wards from the island city’s administrative wards have been allocated to the suburbs. “Almost all wards have seen changes to their ward boundaries owing to a shift in population. While the geographical area of the island city has increased, it has reduced in the suburbs despite the rise in population,” said BG Pawar, deputy municipal commissioner, involved in redrawing of the electoral maps.

According to sources, around 16 wards have seen a population shift in totality (100%) to other wards, making it easier for the candidates from 2012 to contest from here. For instance, a part of ward no. 4 has retained its older areas and a smaller part has gone to other wards. So for a corporator, it is easier to contest from the same ward, provided the reservations are in his favour, said civic officials.