Elections to four municipal corporations, three of these created by the state’s BJP government last year, will be held on party symbols in Himachal Pradesh.
A decision was taken by the cabinet on Monday to hold the elections to Dharamshala, Palampur, Solan and Mandi.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur presided over the meeting, which also cleared the proposal to amend the HP Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 and HP Municipal Corporation Elections Rules, 2012.
Two bills proposing these amendments, will be introduced in the upcoming session of the state Assembly, beginning here on February 26.
The bills, if passed, will restore pre-2016 status in case of all municipal corporations – including Shimla, one of the country’s oldest municipal corporations.
The last poll to Shimla Municipal Corporations was held in 2017.
Barring Dharamshala, all other three towns have been given municipal corporations in October 2020.
Minister for urban development and parliamentary affairs Suresh Bhardwaj, who is also the Shimla MLA, said, “Now that the cabinet has given its nod for conducting elections on party symbols, the provisions of anti-defection law will also apply to the elected councillors in these towns.”
In another landmark decision aimed to win over the support of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) – which constitutes 27 per cent of population in Kangra district, where two municipal corporation polls are to be held (Dharamshala and Palampur), the cabinet approved reservation for post of the mayor from the OBC category.
“Beside , SC, ST and women, a new reservation criterion on rotation basis, will be applied for election of the candidate to the mayor’s post,” said Bhardwaj.
The cabinet also approved new norms for “no-confidence” in the municipal corporations and posting of commissioners from the IAS cadres with seven-year service and those from Himachal Administration Services (HAS) with nine-year service. Earlier, 10-year long service was mandatory for both categories.
Recently, the state government has completed elections for gram panchayats, nagar panchayats, nagar parishads, zila parishads and block development committees in Himachal Pradesh. No party symbols were used though the BJP had backed its “official” candidates.
The BJP has won nine zila parishads of the 11 while elections in Lahaul-Spiti district are yet to be held.
The Opposition Congress, which had accused the BJP of misusing the state government machinery and power to win over the Congress-backed elected office-bearers, had dared the BJP to hold elections to municipal corporation on party symbols.