MP: BJP's 30% Reservation to Women in Police Jobs Promise not in Municipal Bodies' Ambit, Says Congress
Representational use only.Image Courtesy: The Leaflet
Bhopal: After a raging controversy over the Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in panchayat polls, Madhya Pradesh saw the first phase of urban local body elections on Wednesday, with 61% voter turnout in 44 districts.
Amid reports of minor skirmishes between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress workers in Indore, the first phase of urban local body elections covering 11 municipal corporations, 36 civic councils and 86 nagar parishads ended peacefully. Seven persons were injured in a clash between Congress and BJP workers in Indore.
Four major cities of the state – Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Indore – saw a dip in voter turnout as compared to the last election. Bhopal saw 51.64% turnout, Gwalior 49%, Jabalpur saw 60%, and 60% of votes were cast in Indore. The officials said that the highest voting of 83.70% was recorded in Ratlam; Ujjain also witnessed a high turnout of 76.60%.
The Congress and BJP are the main contenders in these polls, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimee (AIMIM), and tribal outfit Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) are also debuting in the Panchayat polls.
"Barring minor incidents of skirmishes between rival party workers at some places, the polling was peaceful in the entire state," the official said.
"The final voting figure is likely to change after data compilation when all polling parties return to their bases."
Votes polled in the first phase will be counted on July 17.
The second and last phase of urban local body elections will take place on July 13, and votes will be counted on July 18.
Manifesto: BJP promises helicopter services to pilgrimage, Congress to cut water, house taxes
The ruling BJP, which holds all 16 civic bodies of the state, has promised helicopter services to pilgrimage, tourist sites, mobile kitchens for the poor, 30% reservation for women in police recruitment, home for the poor, rationalisation of municipal taxes and publication of monthly expenditure of local bodies.
While Congress, in its Sankalp Patra, promised to reduce house tax and water bill by half. Women and men above 60 will be given a rebate of 5% in property tax. The party vowed to fix the sewage, wrecked water supply system, and provide free WiFi in public places.
The grand old party also promised to start the 'Mayor Helpline number' to address residents' grievances and legalise illegal colonies. A separate resolution letter was released for slum settlements which promised to charge only 50 rupees/month water bill from Economic Weaker Section families.
While the BJP is pushing for a "triple engine government" with the same party in power in local bodies, the state and at the Centre, the Congress is trying to focus on unemployment, inflation and corruption.
Releasing the manifesto on July 1, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan promised to include the naming of city squares after tribal freedom fighters and special tax waivers to the families of freedom fighters. The posts of regional municipal commissioners will also be introduced along the lines of the Gujarat Municipal Corporation.
The BJP has promised transparency in the works of municipal bodies through the publication of monthly income-expenditure sheets. It said councillors would be mandated to hear the grievances of the people. The BJP has promised a 20-year plan for water supply and mobile kitchens to provide affordable and nutritious food to the daily wagers and labourers.
Care centres will be set up for stray dogs. To encourage plantation, one person, one tree scheme will be introduced, vowed BJP in the manifesto.
State BJP chief VD Sharma said the promises would change the face of the state as they have decided to resolve basic issues.
"It will bring changes in the lives of people."
Countering the BJP, former Urban Development Minister and Congress leader Jaivardhan Singh asked, "Since when Municipal Corporation has the power to give 30% reservation to women in police recruitment and have rights to give lands to the marginalised? They are just fooling voters with unrealistic promises."
In its manifesto, the BJP has also indicated hiking water, property and other taxes. In contrast, Congress has promised to trim it down to half, he added in the official party communique.
"The state which the BJP has ruled for almost 20 years is paying the price of its misrule. The state has a debt of 3.50 lakh crore; it sells the costliest petrol, diesel and electricity in the country," Jaivardhan Singh said.
ENTRY OF AAP, AIMIM, JAYS WORRY FOR BJP & CONGRESS
In a bid to try its luck in Madhya Pradesh - a strongly bipolar state - Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and tribal outfit Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) forayed into the panchayat and local bodies polls.
AAP is contesting 14 of 16 mayoral posts, over 2,000 posts of councillors across the state and several posts in the three-tier panchayat polls. Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM is focusing on the Malwa-Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh – which has witnessed numerous communal tension since September 2020 - and has fielded its candidates in Khargone, Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Burhanpur, Ratlam and Khandwa.
Of the 51 candidates fielded by AIMIM, 38 are contesting from the Malwa-Nimar region. The remaining 13 candidates are contesting from different wards of Jabalpur and Bhopal, a party functionary said.
With a promise to provide free electricity, water, and corruption-free municipal corporations committed to resolving civic issues, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a road show in Singrauli on July 2 -- first-ever election campaign for him in Madhya Pradesh -- in support of the party's Singrauli mayoral candidate Rani Agarwal.
In his address, the AAP convener said, "We will solve all the issues of the municipality, including roads, electricity, water, and employment, with the support of the people of Singrauli. Both the BJP and the Congress are peas of the same pod. They both only care about amassing wealth when in power. The AAP doesn't believe in gobbling up funds; we put money in common persons' pockets."
AAP's mayoral candidate from Singrauli, Rani Agrawal, secured 21.59% votes in the 2018 Assembly election from the Singrauli Assembly seat while BJP's candidate Ram Lallu Vaishya won the seat by securing 24% votes.
In the poll manifesto, Agrawal has promised 20,000 litres of free drinking water/month for every household and waiving off house tax, apart from many other facilities and amenities.
Before Kejriwal's visit, the party poached Congress leader Akshay Hunka into the fold.
Speaking to the media, Hunka said, "In fact, about 50 of our sarpanch candidates, three district panchayat member candidates and about a dozen janpad panchayat member candidates have won in the first two phases of panchayat polls." He added that roughly, AAP is contesting 60% of the seats in the polls.
As far as tribal outfit JAYS is concerned, which came into existence in 2017, it has majorly fielded candidates in tribal-dominated districts Barwani, Khargone, Jhabua, and Alirajpur on various posts.
"The party's candidates have already won 1,000 sarpanch seats, 100 janpad sadasya and 25 zila panchayats after defeating BJP and Congress on many seats," said Anand Rai, JAYS political strategist.
AIMIM is eyeing the Malwa region, which has the highest Muslim population out of 6.7% in the state. The communally sensitive Malwa-Nimar region comprises 66 Assembly seats out of the total 230. It is a stronghold of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Those Muslim voters who are neither happy with the BJP nor the Congress are shifting towards AIMIM. The AIMIM will hope to grow its base by appealing to disillusioned Congress voters. With the local body polls, the party is also looking to test the ground for next year's state Assembly elections.
Ahead of the polls, AIMIM surveyed at least 20 districts of the Malwa-Nimar and the central region of the state, led by party leader Syed Minhajuddin, party officials said.
While addressing a rally in Jabalpur on June 27, Owaisi said the Congress is a "spent force" in the country, and people shouldn't waste their vote on that party.
"Congress has become a spent force in the country. It has lost its existence, don't waste your vote on it," he said while addressing a public meeting to drum up support for party candidates contesting the upcoming municipal elections.
Amid reports of minor skirmishes between BJP and Congress workers in Indore, the first phase of urban local body elections covering 11 municipal corporations, 36 civic councils and 86 nagar parishads ended peacefully on Wednesday.
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