Cong sniffs ‘hidden agenda’ in Uttarakhand’s move to draft new municipal corporation bill

The Congress is smelling a “hidden agenda” in the BJP government’s move to draft a new municipal corporation bill, saying the ruling party “intends to postpone” the April civic polls

dehradun Updated: Jan 28, 2018 20:41 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,municipal corporation bill,civic poll
The state’s eight municipal corporations are being governed by the Uttar Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act. (HT File)

The Congress is smelling a “hidden agenda” in the BJP government’s move to draft a new municipal corporation bill, saying the ruling party “intends to postpone” the April civic polls.

“There seems to be a hidden agenda behind this (BJP) government’s move to formulate a new municipal corporation law when just two moths’ time is left for the urban body polls,” Congress leader Surendra Kumar said.

“The timing of this move shows that the urban body polls will be put off as the BJP is scared of its fast dwindling popularity,” he alleged.

“Had the intention behind bringing in the proposed law been to strengthen the urban local bodies, we would welcome the move but, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the intention,” Kumar said.

The reaction comes a day after the BJP government issued an order directing officials to set up a six-member committee to draft the proposed bill.

The panel would be headed by urban development additional secretary Chandresh Yadav with director, urban development, V K Suman as one of its members.

“The panel to be constituted will submit its report within the next three months’ time,” urban development minister Madan Kaushik said, adding that he would re-examine the Draft Municipal Corporation Bill before it would be enacted.

Suman said the panel would study the municipal corporation laws enforced in other states so that their best provisions could be incorporated into the Municipal Corporation Bill which would be drafted soon.

“We will study primarily the municipal corporation laws enforced in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh,” he said, adding, of the two laws, the “one enforced in MP is considered to be the best”.

The BJP is ruling in five of the state’s eight municipal corporations, of which two were created recently. Incidentally, all those eight urban local bodies are governed by the Uttar Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act. It was enforced in the mountain state soon after it was carved out of neighbouring Uttar Pradesh in 2000.

In fact, the Panchayati Raj Act is the only local body law in the mountain state, which is independent of Uttar Pradesh. Other urban local bodies namely Nagar Panchayats and Nagar Palikas are also governed by the UP Nagar Panchayat and Nagar Palika laws.

Minister Kaushik said the government was not touching the other two local body laws – the Nagar Panchayat Act and the Nagar Palika Act.

“As of now, we are focusing only on formulating the Draft Municipal Corporation Bill so that we can replace the related law that had been adopted from Uttar Pradesh,” he said inviting a sharp reaction from the Congress.

Questioning timing of the move, the Congress accused the BJP government of starting the process of formulating the draft bill when hardly two months were left for the Urban Local Body elections.

“Clearly, while enacting the proposed law the rules relating to elections to the municipal corporations will also be reframed. Obviously, the urban local body polls will be postponed,” Congress leader Kumar alleged.

The BJP, however, dubbed the Congress’ allegations as baseless. “By all means, the urban local body polls will be held on time… Let the Congress get on with its poll preparations,” Kaushik said.

BJP state unit general secretary Naresh Bansal said the local body elections would be held on time even if the proposed municipal corporation law would not be enacted by that time.

“The idea behind bringing in the new municipal corporation law is to devolve more power to the municipal corporations in keeping with the spirit of the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments.”

First Published: Jan 28, 2018 20:41 IST