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Delhi mayoral elections set for April 26: Officials | Latest News Delhi

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Wednesday announced that this year’s mayoral polls will be held on April 26, with the post reserved for a Scheduled Caste candidate in this election cycle.

The term of the incumbent mayor, Shelly Oberoi, ended on March 31, but she will continue in her position till a new mayor is elected. (HT Photo)

Civic body officials said that nominations for the post can be filed till April 18, adding that consent for the polls has been sought from the Election Commission of India, in light of the upcoming general elections.

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Read here: Delhi mayor seeks early ruling on aldermen

The mayoral elections are an annual exercise, held in first meeting of the civic body’s yearly cycle which starts in April. The term of the incumbent mayor, Shelly Oberoi, ended on March 31, but she will continue in her position till a new mayor is elected, officials said. In addition, elections for a deputy mayor will also be held in the same meeting, but there is no reservation mandated for the post. The current deputy mayor is Aaley Md Iqbal.

A meeting notice issued by municipal secretary Siva Prasad KV on Wednesday stated that MCD’s ordinary April meeting will be held on April 26 at 11 am, and the elections of the mayor and deputy mayor will be held in the same meeting. The mayor’s office stated that Oberoi approved the election meeting.

A second order issued by Prasad said that section 35 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act, 1957 (amended 2022) provides that the corporation “shall in its first meeting in each year elect one of its members to be chairperson to be known as mayor and another member to be deputy mayor… The office shall be reserved for a member who is woman in first year and in favour of member belonging to Scheduled Caste for the third year”.

The mayoral polls will be the first electoral challenge for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since chief minister Arvind Kejriwal — the AAP national convener — was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21 in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22.

The AAP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not comment on the development.

An MCD official familiar with the election process said that prospective candidates are given at least a week to file their nominations.

“Once nominations are completed, the election file will go from the municipal secretariat to the commissioner, who will forward it to the urban development department. It will finally reach lieutenant governor VK Saxena’s office through the chief minister’s office for nominating a presiding officer to hold the elections,” the official said.

However, as Kejriwal is currently lodged in Tihar jail, it is unclear whether the file will still need to be signed by the chief minister.

Anil Gupta, the former chief law officer at MCD, said that it was not clear whether Kejriwal’s arrest and subsequent incarceration at Tihar jail will have a bearing on the finalisation of the election schedule.

“The convention has been that the file goes through the urban development department and CM, but section 77 of the DMC Act just states that at a meeting for the election of a mayor, the administrator— the lieutenant governor — shall nominate a councillor who is not a candidate for such election to preside over the meeting. The power vests with the administrator,” he said.

Electoral college

The electoral college for electing a mayor comprises Delhi’s 250 councillors, 10 parliamentarians (seven Lok Sabha, three Rajya Sabha), 14 legislators nominated by the state assembly speaker, and 10 aldermen who do not do not have voting powers in the house proceedings.

For the elections, the AAP has the support of 134 councillors from its party, along with another independent councillor. In addition, the party also has the support of three Rajya Sabha MPs (all AAP) and 13 legislators.

The BJP, on the other hand, claims the support of 104 councillors, along with another independent councillor, as well as seven Lok Sabha members and one MLA.

Meanwhile, the Congress has nine councillors, along with the support of another independent councillor.

To be sure, cross voting is permitted in these elections as anti-defection laws do not apply.

Gupta said the seven Lok Sabha MPs — all BJP leaders — will be able to participate in the elections as they technically remain parliamentarians till the House is dissolved.

Read here: Delhi mayor writes to MCD official over de-sealing

Past elections in current house

Oberoi, the AAP councillor from East Patel Nagar, was elected mayor in the previous two elections held on February 22, 2023 and April 26, 2023 — both marred by controversies and legal battles.

In the February 2023 polls, Oberoi received 150 votes against BJP’s Rekha Gupta, who received 116 votes. After a two-month tenure, elections were held afresh in April 2023, in which Oberoi was elected unopposed — BJP candidate Shika Roy withdrew her nomination at the last moment.

However, Oberoi is ineligible for this electoral round as the post of mayor is reserved for a Scheduled Caste candidate.

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