Delhi mayor poll: What does Aldermen mean, why are BJP & AAP fighting over it?

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) house saw a high-octane brawl unfolded just at the start of swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected councillors. The AAP and the BJP reportedly clashed over the order of oath-taking.

The situation became volatile, and marshals were called as soon as the presiding officer Satya Sharma first invited an alderman to take the oath. The AAP, which had questioned the appointment of the aldermen, objected and rushed to the well.

Who are aldermen?

The term “aldermen” traces its origin, the Merriam-webster dictionary states, from Old English ealdorman, from eald (old) + man. The word refers to experts specialized in some areas.

According to the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act of 1957, the Lieutenant Governor ( of the National Capital Territory of Delhi may nominate ten individuals who are above the age of 25 to the corporation. It is expected that these individuals have specialised expertise or experience in municipal administration.

The aldermen cannot, however, cast ballots in the mayoral election. As ward committee members, they have the power to cast ballots to choose one representative for each of the 12 MCD zones to serve on a standing committee.

What is the controversy in Delhi mayor poll?

The most recent point of contention between the AAP and the BJP is on the choice of nominations made by L-G for the MCD’s aldermen.

The L-G office first issued a notification with the names of the ten nominees. However, a revised list was later issued, with two names removed because they were ineligible for the position.

The original list named Vinod Kumar, Laxman Arya, Mukesh Mann, Suneet Chauhan, Raj Kumar Bhatia, Mohan Goel, Sanjay Tyagi, Rajpal Rana, Manoj Kumar, Rohtash Kumar for the post.

AAP cries foul play

The AAP, which has 134 members due to its victory in the December 4 polls, objected to the L-G’s nomination. Atishi, the party’s MLA from Kalkaji, claimed that all of the aldermen chosen by L-G are BJP members. She alleged that the nomination process had been tainted, unlike in the past, when a list of candidates for Aldermen was provided by the Delhi government to the L-G. Now, it was no longer routed through the state government’s urban development department.

“An illegal, unconstitutional notification has been issued today,” Atishi charged.

LG office responds

The L-G office, however, denied the AAP’s accusations, claiming that the lieutenant governor was not bound by the state government’s suggestion or consultation on the matter.

According to a representative of the LG office, the DMC Act gives the lieutenant governor the authority to nominate the Aldermen. The official noted that the word “government” in the DMC Act has been changed to “central government” as of the 2022 revision.

BJP’s stand

Meanwhile, BJP ridiculed AAP for ‘disrespect for constitutional provisions’.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said, “It is strange that Atishi is saying that the LG has bypassed the legal process in appointing 10 Aldermen. “The AAP should stop playing the victim card,” Kapoor said.

MCD’s mayor and deputy mayor candidates

Shelly Oberoi and Ashu Thakur are AAP candidates running for the position of mayor. Oberoi is primary candidate for the party. Rekha Gupta, on the other hand, is the BJP contender for the top position.

Jalaj Kumar and Aaley Mohammad Iqbal are the Aam Aadmi Party’s candidates for the position of deputy mayor. Kamal Bagri is the candidate for BJP in the election.

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