The much talked about Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections in the national capital are being considered to be a litmus test for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) before the next assembly and parliamentary elections.
Riding on ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ which is led by the party’s senior leader Rahul Gandhi with an aim to unite India, the Congress party hopes to regain its vote share while the BJP is eyeing a winning momentum to the polls with a win that they hope to ride on anti-incumbency.
As the poll bugle sounded with the Delhi State Election Commission announced dates for civic elections scheduled on December 4, all three parties the BJP, AAP and the Congress geared up to win the prestigious battle.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced 10 guarantees to make the city garbage-free, clean and beautiful, timely payment of salaries to its employees as well as to end corruption by making building plan processes online among others if the AAP voted to power.
The BJP also released a manifesto called the ‘Vachan Patra’, (pledge letter) and promised houses for slum dwellers, improving the civic amenities, strengthening the civic body, and ensuring proper disposal of the garbage while the Congress is leaving no stone unturned to regain the trust of the people.
AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal has targeted the ruling BJP, saying that sanitation will be the main issue for the election. The AAP keeps blaming people for creating a mess in the city saying that the saffron party has failed on all fronts to improve the basic amenities the civic body entrusted.
Though as per the past results the trend has never been followed, in the civic elections 2017, the people of the city handed over the power of the MCD to the BJP, winning 181 seats out of the total 272, while the AAP has victorious in 49 wards and the congress came last scoring 31 seats. On the other hand, in the assembly elections 2020, the AAP retained the power of Delhi scoring 62 seats out of 70, the BJP won 8 seats and congress scored naught.
In the parliamentary elections 2019, BJP emerged victorious sweeping all seven seats in Delhi, while the AAP and Congress candidates failed to leave their imprint. In the upcoming MCD elections, the BJP is facing the 15-year-long anti-incumbency, while the Congress, which is in the opposition since 2007, is finding its way back to take back the reign of the civic body. The AAP has also been trying to get hold of the municipal body since its inception.
The BJP, AAP and Congress are going toe to toe in the forthcoming municipal elections over the issues of corruption, garbage and cleanliness.
The BJP is blaming the AAP for the alleged corruption done by them the Delhi government. AAP is accusing the BJP of making the city the garbage capital’ of the country, while the Congress is accusing both – the BJP and AAP of making the city number 1 in pollution across the globe.
In the budget allocation in the Financial Year 2022-2023, the civic body earmarked Rs 4,153.28 crore for sanitation which is 27.19 per cent of the total budget, while Rs 2,632.78 crore was sanctioned for education. The BJP leaders keep blaming the AAP-led Delhi Government for not releasing funds allocation as recommended by the fifth ‘Delhi Finance Commission.
And the AAP accused the BJP of failing to revamp the basic services. The AAP has come aggressively against the approach and said that the saffron party continues passing the buck to divert attention from real issues.
The MCD has three landfill sites in the national capital – Ghazipur, Okhla, and Bhalswa over which the political parties locked horns several times for the past few months, with AAP and Congress lashing out at the BJP for not cleaning Delhi.
The AAP also claimed that apart from existing landfill sites, the Corporation is planning to build new 16 sites, while the civic body termed this as a blatant lie and denied all the allegations. Giving details of the work in progress to flatten the dumping sites, MCD said that 44 trommel machines with the capacity to process approximately 20000-22000 Tonnes Per Day of garbage have been deployed at the sites.
The Corporation has processed 77 Lakh Metric Tonne of legacy waste and has successfully achieved to reduce the height of garbage mounds by 15 meters at the Okhla landfill site, one mound of 11 meters has been fully disposed of at the Bhalswa landfill site and another mound of 12 meters is under process, at Ghazipur landfill site height of garbage mound has been reduced by 12-18 meters at different stretches.
As per the direction of Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, the MCD will clear the landfill sites at the Bhalswa landfill site and Okhla landfill site by December 2023 and the Ghazipur landfill site will be flattened by March 2024.
Unification of the MCD
This is the first election after the unification of the trifurcated civic bodies – North, South, and East on May 22 with IAS officers Ashwani Kumar and Gyanesh Bharti assuming charge of the unified corporation’s special officer and commissioner, respectively.
In this regard, a Bill was approved by the Lok Sabha on March 30, 2022, and by the Rajya Sabha on April 5, 2022. On April 18, the Bill became an Act after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent.
On September 13, the Delimitation Committee constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs completed the work of the draft for the delimitation of wards of the erstwhile Municipal Corporation. The date for the voting for the MCD election 2022, is December 4 and the votes will be counted on December 7 by the State Election Commission (SEC) on November 5.
MCD has run into huge losses
Property tax remains one of the main sources of revenue for the corporation. The total property tax collection for 2021-22 was Rs 2,032 crore. Besides property tax, the main source of income for the MCD is the tax collected from property besides advertising revenue, toll tax, parking and factory licensing.
But still, the corporation has miserably failed even to pay the salary to its staff on time, leading to frequent protests resulting in delays of initiatives and various programmes run by the civic body. The civic body gets its funds from both the centre and the state government. Apart from this, another major source of funds for the Corporation is Property Tax which the MCD collects from the owners of the property on the Capital.
The BJP, which has ruled the three civic bodies North Delhi Municipal Corporation, East Delhi Municipal Corporation and South Delhi Municipal Corporation for the past 15 years, will put all its efforts to retain the reign. The party considers the MCD elections a test of citizens’ faith in the run-up to upcoming general elections.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party which is enjoying power in Delhi will try to get maximum seats to prove its popularity among people. The party has focused on clearing the city’s three landfill sites, ending corruption in the civic body and timely payment of salaries to employees. However, Congress will expect to wrest power from the saffron party. The MCD polls will be held on December 4. The counting of votes will take place on December 7.
From birth till death and after, the civic body takes care of all the basic needs of a person such as health facilities, sanitation etc. The MCDs run hospitals and dispensaries, manage water supply, maintain the drainage system, ensure the upkeep and maintenance of markets, build and maintain parks and parking lots, oversee the construction and maintenance of roads and over-bridges, look after solid-waste management, ensure street lighting, run primary schools, recover property and professional taxes, operate the toll tax collection system, run cremation grounds and maintain the birth and death records of the area.
The MCD and its huge losses
Property tax remains one of the main sources of revenue for the corporation. The total property tax collection for 2021-22 was `2,032 crore
Besides property tax, the main source of income for the MCD is the tax collected from the property is advertising revenue, toll tax, parking and factory licensing
The MCD has miserably failed to pay the salaries of its staff on time
The tussle for funds between the BJP-controlled civic body and AAP-run Delhi government has been continuing for several years
Why is MCD important?
From birth till death and after, the civic body takes care of all the basic needs of a person such as health facilities, sanitation etc. The MCD runs hospitals and dispensaries, manages water supply, maintains the drainage system, ensures the upkeep and maintenance of markets, builds and maintains parks and parking lots, oversees the construction and maintenance of roads and over-bridges, looks after solid-waste management, ensures street lighting, runs primary schools, recovers property and professional taxes, operates the toll tax collection system, runs cremation grounds and maintains the birth and death records of the citizens.