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Delhi All Set For Civic Polls: MCD Elections, Delimitation And Reaction Of Political Parties

Central Government through a Gazette notification yesterday ratified the final reports of the delimitation committee that it received a day before.  

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It is just a matter of time for the final announcement of the Delhi civic polls. The Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday in a gazette notification ratified the delimitation of Municipal wards in Delhi and paved the way for the elections that should have technically been conducted in April had there been no delimitation exercise.

In their 800 page long gazette notification, MHA noted that the number of municipal wards in Delhi will now be 250 among which 42 will be reserved for the Scheduled Castes.  

Before the reunification of the three erstwhile municipal corporations, there were 272 civic wards in the city.

As per the PTI reports the delimitation committee submitted its final report to the Centre on Monday after incorporating several objections and suggestions it received since they placed it in the public domains.

“And, whereas, suggestions/objections so received have been examined and the Draft Delimitation Order for wards of Municipal Corporation of Delhi has been amended wherever required, feasible and justified on reasonable grounds,” reads the notification.

Declaring the final decision over the 250 wards, the notification said, “Now, therefore, the Central Government, after careful consideration of all aspects, hereby determines the extent of each of the 250 wards as comprised within the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and as per Annexure to this order.”

As the delimitation exercise is finalised, as per PTI, the Government will now ask the state election commission to start with the process of declaring the dates of election. According to reports, the election of MCD can be held either at the end of this year or in early 2023.

Here is all you need to know about the Delimitation Exercise.

What was the composition of earlier MCD?

Established in 1958, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was divided in three Municipalities- North Delhi Municipal Corporations (NDMC), South Delhi Municipal Corporations (SDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporations (EDMC) in 2012 during the time of Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

The last time MCDs witnessed a delimitation exercise was in 2016. The total seats were pegged at 272 among which SDMC and NDMC had 104 wards each and EDMC had 64.

The earlier delimitation considered 60000 people per ward approximately with a variation of around 10-15%.

When was the new Delimitation Exercise started?

Prior to the scheduled elections of the three Municipality bodies that have been ruled by the BJP for a decade now, the central government communicated to election commission about its intention to unify the three MCDs. In March, it asked the commission to postpone the elections.

On April 5 the parliament passed the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill-2022 to unify three civic bodies in the national capital. In its notification on September 10, it subsequently capped the  total number of wards to 250.

Following that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in July had set up a three-member panel for a fresh delimitation of the municipal wards in Delhi.

The panel had three members -- Vijay Dev, State Election Commissioner, Delhi, who was its chairman; Pankaj Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary in Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs; and Randhir Sahay, Additional Commissioner, MCD. 

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After a two months’ exercise the committee placed its reports in the public domain on September 13 for suggestions and objections. Prior to submitting its final report to the MHA, the committee received around 1700 suggestions from citizens and different stakeholders.

What is the reaction of AAP?

Expressing its discontent over the draft report that was earlier submitted by the committee, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) termed it as ‘politically motivated’.

Citing the discrepancies in the distribution of the population the statement of AAP in September said, “They were required to reduce 22 wards and the easiest way to do this was to identify those assembly constituencies which had 4-6 wards and reduce one ward from there by evenly merging the population among the remaining wards in that constituency. For instance, if a constituency had five wards, they had to reduce it to four and if a constituency had six wards, there should be five wards after delimitation. They were not required to disturb any other assembly constituency except these 22 seats (which had higher number of wards). The delimitation exercise takes place in such a manner that it does not lead to huge differences in population sizes across constituencies. But the present delimitation draft has led to a situation where a ward like Mayur Vihar Phase 1 has a population of 93,381, while Chandni Chowk ward has 35,509 people. This process clearly seems politically motivated.”

Pointing out that such efforts may affect the development of the wards, it added, “The exercise has been called out for lack of logic, rationale and reason by experts across the board. It has been argued that the reorganisation of wards under MCD delimitation may pose a threat to the development of the national capital and put interests of the working-class wards in the dark.”

As per the terms of references given to the committee by the MHA, ‘the principle of average population’ was asked to be maintained with a 10-15 per cent variations. As the committee used the 2011 census, ideally every ward should have had 65000 people, which is clearly not the case now.

AAP also submitted its objection reports to the committee on September 30.

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