Bill to conduct MC election on party symbol passed as Oppn stages walkout 

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Shimla, Mar 8

The new bill to conduct Municipal Corporation election on the party symbols was passed in the state assembly on Monday amid opposition protest which charged the speaker of not accepting their amendments in the bill. Opposition and Congress leader Mukesh Agnihotri pointed out that members were not given the opportunity to present their amendment on the bill. He urged the government to give two more days to allow members to submit their amendments.

However Deputy Speaker Hansraj read a notification in the house stating that members of opposition and ruling were informed by the vidhan sabha speaker about the introduction of bill on Mar 5. He said that members were given sufficient time to speak on the bills.

Jagat Singh Negi stated that Govt had not specified in the new legislation about cross voting. He said that provisions should be made in the bill to check cross voting. He added that power to conduct Municipal Corporation polls should be given to Election Commission of India in place of State Election Commission.  He said that ruling party could influence the govt officers to ensure cross voting in favour of party candidates for the post of Mayor or Deputy Mayor. He said that Govt is coming up  with the bill in tearing hurry due to political consideration and the bill is being brought to amendment without giving opportunity to house members to submit their suggestions.

CPI(M) member of Assembly Rakesh Singha demanded to send that bill to select committee as according to him the govt is getting the bill with political vendetta in  tearing hurry. He said that merger of parties in the bill would give enormous power to the government and it could cause horse trading. He said that govt has absolute majority in house and can get the bill cleared. Yet, even if the Govt is able to pass the bill today without accepting opposition amendments,  would be challenged in court. He said that govt is not coming up with any legal consideration but with hidden Political consideration.

Suresh Bhardwaj said that decision of presiding officer is final and it could not go for judicial review. He said that  intention of bill  is to conduct Municipal Corporation election on the party symbols amending the HPMC act 1994 and the rest of the section of said bill would remain unchanged.  Urban Development Minister Bhardwaj said that Jai Ram Thakur Government would constitute new Municipal Corporations in the state with increasing demography and changing the funding pattern of finance commission as it is need of hour.

Replying to discussion on the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation Amendment Bill 2021 today the Minister said that five corporations are being constituted under the move. He said a number of new townships are coming up in the state and urban local bodies should be upgraded.  He said that finance commission is granting more funds for urban local bodies specially to MCs and the government intention of constitution couldn’t be justified by Political consideration but it is need of hour. He said that govt would designate a senior officer above the rank of Deputy Commissioner as Commissioner of MCs.

Bhardwaj said that presently, the elections to the Municipal Corporations in the State are held on the basis of free symbols and the contesting candidates set up by the political parties are not allotted the reserved symbols. ”The legislation proposed to amend the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 so that the candidates of the political parties may be allotted symbols reserved to them. ” he said.

This bill would also provide stability in the Municipal Corporations as new provision inserted to provide for disqualification of members in case of defections.  The bill also proposed to enhance quorum of the house for considering a no confidence motion against the Mayor or Deputy Mayor to three-forth from the present limit of one-half.  In view of the spirit of the article 243 T of the Constitution of India, a provision was incorporated in the legislation to provide for reservation in the Office of Mayor of the Municipal Corporations to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Currently there is no bar to the defaulter(s) of the Cooperative Societies to contest elections. Therefore, a provision was made that such defaulter(s) would be disqualified from contesting the elections of the Municipal  Corporations.

Minister said that proposed amendments would help the MC Act be more compatible.

Opposition staged walkout on the issue demanding time for the presenting amendments however the ruling benches passed the bill with voice vote in absence of opposition.

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