MCD elections 2022: The flurry of political activity underway in the bylanes of the national capital would usually point to a major national election approaching. While that may be partly true — given the high stakes for the Aam Aadmi Party, the battle of perception that Bharatiya Janata Party wants to win at any cost, and the crisis of existence for a dilapidated Congress — it is important for voters to keep their minds free of clutter. Substance must take precedence over rhetoric.
With barely 10 days to go for the elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on December 4, promises, mudslinging and backlash against ticket distributions may have clouded the minds of voters in Delhi which is gasping for fresh air and looking back at the promises of making the national capital a world class city.
Yamuna frothing, pollution, population boom, disposal of daily discards, traffic congestion et al are some recurring and perennial problems for the people of Delhi. Despite all odds, Councillor elections carry high weightage for locals as they are the closest layer of the three-tier government system. For every civic need, people have to turn towards their elected representatives.
Join us as we try to cut the clutter and put the information you need into perspective.
What is MCD? What are its functions?
In India, a municipal corporation is a local government that looks after urban areas with a population of more than one million. Urbanisation coupled with growing population underlined the need of a local governing body that could provide basic amenities to people like healthcare, education, sanitation, housing and transport by collecting property taxes and rationalising grants from the state government.
MCD, which stands for Municipal Corporation of Delhi, plays a key role in providing civic needs to around 20 million lives in the capital city everyday. From managing colony roads to maintaining crematoriums, from looking after primary education to basic healthcare and from cleaning drains and garbage to registering births, deaths and marriages, MCD plays an important role in every sphere in the lives of Delhi’s residents.
MCD, the second-largest civic body in the world after Tokyo’s, is one of three municipalities in the National Capital Territory of Delhi — the others being New Delhi Municipal Council, and Delhi Cantonment Board.
The birth of MCD and its journey so far
Delhi got its legislative assembly on March 7, 1952 under the Government of Part C States Act, 1951 and Chaudhary Brahm Prakash became the first chief minister. Lots of infrastructural development happened during that time frame. Owing to the hub of power and other facilities, Delhi drew people from across the country that led to immense population pressure. It was then that the national capital felt the dire need of a full-fledged municipal corporation.The Municipal Corporation of Delhi was officially established on April 7, 1958 by an Act of Parliament.
After the latest restructuring of MCD, the total number of wards has been reduced from 272 to 250. Of the total 250 wards, 42 seats are reserved for SC candidates, 21 for SC Women (SCW) candidates, and 104 seats are reserved for women candidates. As many as 1.46 crore people could cast their votes at 13,665 polling stations on December 4.
MCD: A rollercoaster ride
In January 2012, with Sheila Dikshit at the helm as chief minister and Congress-led UPA at the Centre, BJP-led MCD was trifurcated: South Delhi Municipal Corporation, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, and East Delhi Municipal Corporation. There were 12 administrative zones under MCD. The Congress, justifying the trifurcation, said handling the vast population of Delhi was too difficult to handle by one MCD. The party said the purpose of trifurcation was decentralisation of administration and providing better service to people. It was, however, felt that the then government trifurcated the MCD to dilute powers of BJP-led municipal corporations. Although Dikshit expected electoral gains from the trifurcation, Congress was routed by BJP in all three corporations.
In March this year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Bill in the Parliament to unify the three municipal bodies in the national capital. The BJP said that the unification would fix the fund crisis of MCD which was caused by the trifurcation. The trifurcation put more financial load as expenditure of running three corporations shot up, leading to salary delays, particularly for sanitation workers and doctors. The AAP termed the unification move as “BJP’s tactics” to delay civic polls.
The political stratagem brought MCD back to square one but public issues remained unresolved. Over the years, the MCD has suffered losses, with its salary-pension expenditure at around Rs 9,000 crore. BJP and AAP attacked each other over monetary grants, while the city has continued to suffer.
What are Councillors? How are their duties and powers different from MPs and MLAs?
Councillors have a greater impact on people in Delhi than their MPs or MLAs. For every immediate need they have to turn towards their Councillor. You would need to reach out to your ward Councillor if your street-light is not working or nearby drains are clogged or the park is untidy.
Municipal Councillors are members of municipal corporation who are elected by citizens (voters) during local body elections held in each state every five years. They contest elections either to represent any political party or contest independently without getting affiliated with any political outfit. Owing to the three-tier governing system in India, people’s minds are generally cluttered with the jurisdictions of their MP, MLA and Councillor in the given area.
For example, an issue with water supply or power outage would come under the purview of an MLA’s responsibility. If you have any issue concerning a law of national dimension or a big development project, you would need to reach out to your MP. However, if you are annoyed with a stray dog or monkey menace, you can turn to your Councillor who is squarely responsible for your ward related issues.
Your Councillor looks after running primary healthcare, managing drainage systems, maintaining markets, parks and parking lots, overseeing the construction and maintenance of roads, handling waste management and street lighting among others.
Why do people get confused with working jurisdiction?
The working of the Delhi government and MCD overlap on some matters. For instance, the Delhi government and the MCD both manage the construction and maintenance of roads. The roads which are more than 60 feet wide usually fall under the Delhi government (that is your MLA), while the narrower ones come under the MCD, meaning your Councillor.
MCD Elections 2022 schedule
Voting for 250 wards of the MCD will be held on December 4, while counting for votes will be held on December 7. In the previous MCD polls of 2017, out of 275 overall wards, the BJP had won 181, AAP 49, and Congress 31. This will be the first MCD election since the reunification.