Shimla, April 13
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) has always been a significant political force in the Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) elections. As a kingmaker, the left front and CPI(M) have often forced larger political parties to be cautious and not underestimate their limited strength in the city. The party has produced several leaders who may have little political significance but are well-known mass leaders with unparalleled organizational skills.
The ongoing SMC poll holds special significance due to the CPI(M)’s presence, as the outfit has launched several successful mass movements from Shimla. Political pundits predict that the CPI(M) poses a challenge for both the main political parties of the state, as the margin of victory depends on the intensity of the left party campaign, which is always shriller and more astounding.
While the BJP and Congress are the two main parties in the SMC election, the CPI(M) is the third most serious contender. The nursery of CPI(M) is enriching both parties, with MLAs and counsellors being elected from BJP and Congress. SFI and AIDWA members have great demand owing to their affiliations with various left frontal organizations, including students, women, and trade unions.
Senior journalist Mahinder Pratap Rana said that this election is also interesting for the public and political parties due to the neck-to-neck fight for all the 34 wards. It was the fear of defeat for the opposition BJP that led them to defer the SMC poll under the guise of delimitation, delaying it by eight months from its scheduled time in June 2022.
Now, both political parties are busy in brainstorming sessions and will have to sail through troubled waters before plunging into the municipal elections. BJP is being blamed by the ruling Congress for skipping the SMC poll, which was not held in the scheduled time before the Assembly Election, and is currently facing factionalism, infighting, and under-cutting.
Before nominations, both BJP and Congress are deeply involved in meditating deeply to face emerging challenges and overcome defeat in the electoral battle. The top brass of political parties is also analyzing the equations of increasing or decreasing ward boundaries of Municipal Corporation to ensure their victory.
Rana said that even if there is a possibility of not winning some wards, both parties are working hard to control damage by putting consensus candidates close to both factions. He said that perhaps in a one on one contest they could mend their strategy to win the election, but here, the CPI(M) always confuses their math in almost every election.
The Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) was formed in 1986 with the objective of managing the affairs of the city. The first election of the corporation was held in the same year, which was won by the Congress party. However, the subsequent elections were marred by controversies.
The second election of the corporation was scheduled to be held in 1991, but the BJP government postponed it for one year. Even after the postponement, the Shanta Kumar government was reluctant to hold the elections. However, people went to court, and the court instructed the government to conduct the elections. The Congress party won the election.
It came to light that Shanta Kumar did not want the municipal elections to be held when Adarsh Sood of the Congress became the mayor. Shanta had given Shimla Municipal Corporation’s valuable property, “Karagnaino” of amusement park, to BJP worker Piyush Goyal, who is currently a minister in the Government of India, at a throwaway price. The Municipal Corporation later took back the property by filing a case in the High Court.
In the 1997 elections, Congress won 23 out of 25 seats, and the BJP won two seats in the Municipal Corporation. Due to this historic victory of the Congress party, an attempt was made to create a political atmosphere in the state that could affect the 1998 assembly elections, but it did not happen.
In 2012, the then BJP government decided to conduct a direct election of mayor and deputy mayor to win the municipal elections, in which the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) won. The BJP once again failed to capture the Shimla Municipal Corporation.
In the 2017 elections, the Congress government included some new areas adjacent to the Municipal Corporation to win the election and increased the number of wards. However, the BJP broke an independent and a Congress member and made its mayor for the first time.
In the municipal elections, both the BJP and the Congress have been accused of dividing the wards and making their numbers and boundaries as per their convenience to win the elections.
Meanwhile CPM has made a 55-member Election committee under the leadership of former Mayor Sanjay Chauhan to contest the elections. It remains to be seen whether the CPM is once again able to challenge the game of these two parties or not. The SMC elections have been a hotbed of controversy, and it is crucial to ensure that they are held in a fair and transparent manner to represent the democratic spirit of the people.
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