Three-member wards in Pune, PCMC: If NCP and BJP both gain, where is Congress?
PUNE The state cabinet on Wednesday decided to introduce a three-member ward system for municipal corporations, including Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, as part of a delimitation exercise.
The three-member ward system introduced by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is likely to help three parties - Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – during seat-sharing arrangements if they decide to fight the upcoming polls together.
In the elections, the new system – a deviation from four-member wards - can lead to fewer defections and may help the BJP in Pune more than the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which was insisting on a two-member panel, observed political leaders.
The cabinet also cleared a proposal for municipal councils by introducing two-member wards, while the Nagar Parishads will have a single-member ward system.
Earlier, the election commission had asked the government to prepare a draft report for delimitation of wards under a single-ward system in 18 municipal corporations including Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Various leaders including the NCP’s Ajit Pawar had however, advocated a two-member ward in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, where the party hopes to wrest power from the BJP in civic elections slated for early next year.
“The decision of three-member wards in all the municipal corporations was taken unanimously. The earlier system of a four-member panel made the ward too large and was problematic for carrying out development,” said minister for Urban development Eknath Shinde.
The Urban Development ministry had originally brought the four-member panel proposal before the cabinet, though NCP ministers opposed it during the coordination committee meeting that took place earlier this week.
The NCP officially welcomed the decision saying the party is prepared to contest the polls.
“The previous government had introduced four-member wards, which often became too big for development. For elected representatives also, it was difficult to reach out to all citizens since the ward was big. The NCP welcomes the three-member ward system,” said NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade.
Political observers noted that those with a strong connect and a strong network of workers can be beneficiaries, as much as those wanting to tide over a party’s image.
With a ground-level network of workers, the new system can be beneficial to the BJP while for the Congress, which is struggling to get back in the game in Pune, it is likely to pose a challenge.
“For the BJP, which often fights elections on the basis of the party’s overall image instead of individual candidates, the new system can work,” said a BJP corporator.
The BJP currently rules PMC with 99 corporators while NCP has 42, Congress 10, Shiv Sena 10 and MNS 02, in the house of 164 members.
With the merger of 23 villages under PMC, the tally of corporators is likely to go up to 166. As per the reservation system for local bodies, 50% of wards have to be reserved for women. The BJP, with a strong women’s wing may benefit under this system.