In the first-ever Right to Recall referendum in Rajasthan, the chairman of the Mangrol municipality of Baran district has won by a margin of 3,488 votes.
The referendum was to decide whether Ashok Jain (62), the chairman of the Mangrol municipality, should be retained or recalled from the post.
Polling was held on Thursday, with 10,998 votes being cast. Of the 16,735 voters in the municipality area, 65.71% voters exercised their franchise.
Counting of the votes took place at the senior secondary school of Mangrol on Friday. Ashok Jain was declared winner after six rounds of counting. Mangrol sub-divisional magistrate and election officer Dara Singh Meena said the chairman needed more than 50% votes to emerge winner, and he received 7,243 votes in his favour while 3,755 votes were cast against him.
Voters chose between the options of ‘empty chair’ and ‘chair with person sitting’ on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to either recall or retain, respectively, the Mangrol municipality chairman.
After the results, a victory procession was carried out in Mangrol by the supporters of Ashok Jain.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Jain said, “It is the triumph of the people who have reposed their faith in honesty.”
He hailed the Right to Recall referendum, saying, “It provides the right to the people for recalling their elected representatives, in case of nonperformance.”
Jain is currently recovering from a spinal injury after falling from a two-wheeler last month in New Delhi, where he had gone to join the Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal. He is bedridden at his house in Kota.
The referendum on the municipality chairman as Jain had lost the no-confidence motion at the hands of 17 out of 20 corporators in January this year. The corporators had accused him of non-performance and autocratic functioning. “The Right to Recall provision must also incorporate removal or action against those representatives who brings a no-confidence motion and later loses in the referendum,” he said.
The Rajasthan Municipalities Bill 2011 has made the Right to Recall Referendum mandatory for recalling elected representatives of municipalities who lose the no-confidence motion.
Jain had become the chairman of Mangrol municipality in direct elections as an independent candidate in November, 2009. He is the son of noted freedom fighter from Hadauti region, Seth Motilal Jain.
Jain’s victory is being considered by many as a triumph for urban development and housing minister Shanti Dhariwal and a defeat for Congress MLA from Anta, Pramod Bhaya.
Jain is a supporter of Dhariwal, while Bhaya is considered a rival of both Dhariwal and Jain.
Asked about his triumph being linked to Dhariwal’s victory, Jain said, “I have Dhariwal’s blessings but neither he nor any other leader has any role in my Right to Recall elections. It is the victory of the people of Mangrol.”