Madhya Pradesh Municipal Election 2022: The voting for the second and final phase of the Madhya Pradesh municipal elections concluded on Wednesday amid heavy security. The voting was held across 43 districts in five municipal corporations, 40 municipalities and 169 Nagar Parishads. The first phase of the civic body polls were held on July 6. The counting of votes for the first phase will be carried out on July 17, while the counting of votes for seats where polls were held in the second phase will be held on July 20. The counting for the second phase was to be held on July 18 but was postponed to July 20 as the Presidential elections are due to be held on the same date.
The first phase saw a voter turnout of 61 per cent, while the second phase recorded a voter turnout of 65.10 per cent till 3 pm in the phase 2 of the urban body elections, according to the State Election Commission (SEC). The polling for the second phase started at 7 am today, and ended at 5 pm. Voting was held for mayor and cooperator posts in Katni, Rewa, Dewas, Ratlam and Morena.
Out of the 61 per cent turnout in the first phase, Ratlam, Devas and Agar Malwa recorded more than 80 per cent turnout, while Bhopal only saw 51 per cent voters exercising their franchise. Indore and Ujjain registered 76 per cent and 76.60 per cent polling respectively.
The ruling BJP had blamed the SEC for a dismal turnout in Bhopal during the first phase and claimed that several voters could not cast their ballot due to the negligence of the Booth Level Officers (BLOs) in the distribution of voter slips.
A delegation from the BJP had visited State Election Commissioner Basant Pratap Singh on July 7 to express their dissatisfaction over the low voter turnout in Bhopal, while highlighting several claims such as the lack of awareness programs by the SEC that led to many voters facing several issues at the time of casting their votes.
While Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan led the campaign for BJP ahead of the civic body elections, Kamal Nath campaigned aggressively for the Congress. Accusing the BJP of using the state machinery and money to their advantage for the local body polls, Nath said, “I am getting many calls that pressure is being put on the administration, police and money. If they had public support, would they need these things? The public is fed up with the false declarations of Shivraj. Now 50 rupees have been increased on domestic gas. Recently, 5 per cent GST was increased on flour, paneer. I have faith in the people of the state.”
Hitting out at Nath, Chouhan, at a public rally said, “Even when Kamal Nath was the CM, he used to threaten police and administration and is still threatening. They have understood that Congress has lost badly and that the defeat has to be blamed on someone or the other.”
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also entered the fray for the first time and has fielded mayoral candidates in 14 out of 16 municipal corporations in the state. The party’s main pitch to the voters has been free water, better education systems and hospitals.
In May, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Madhya Pradesh SEC for not holding the local body elections on time, while stating that delimitation exercise or formation of new wards couldn’t be used as excuses for delaying polls. The SC had given a green signal for at least 50 per cent seat reservation for OBC in the local body polls.
“Ongoing activity of delimitation or formation of ward cannot be a legitimate ground to be set forth by any authority, much less the State Election Commission, to not discharge its constitutional obligation in notifying the election programme at the opportune time and to ensure that the elected body is installed before the expiry of the five-year term of the outgoing elected body,” the Supreme Court said, while pointing out that polls to many urban and rural bodies were due or even overdue.