CHENNAI: Will it be direct election of Mayors and municipal chairmen in the upcoming local body elections? There are talks in official circles that the State is likely to revert to the system of electing the Mayor directly, instead of being chosen by the Councillors.
On Sunday, when the ruling AIADMK party invited applications from its members, the announcement also sought candidates for the Mayor and municipal chairman posts. This has lent credence to the rumours.
The State Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami last week, also discussed the election of Mayors of municipal corporations, chairpersons of municipalities and town panchayats. It is anticipated that the State Election Commission will notify the elections in the last week of this month or in the first week of December.
“It is clear that the upcoming Mayoral election would be a direct one. That’s why our party has invited applications from the cadres for the posts. If not, they would have been invited applications only for corporation councillors and municipal councillors,” said a former AIADMK corporation councillor from a delta district.
Under the indirect election, one of the councillors will contest for the Mayor post, and will win based on the votes of the ward counsellors. This often leads to horse trading of the councillors to capture the prestigious post. In the case of direct elections, the parties need not worry about it and the Mayor post will remain with the most popular party in the elections.
In the past, the mode of Mayoral election has changed often as per the convenience of the party in power. When local body polls were announced in 2016, it was decided that the Mayor would be chosen indirectly. However, that election never took place.
Commenting on the latest development, veteran journalist T Koodalarsan said, “ It would be good for democracy, as a person can win as a Mayor, municipal chairman or as town panchayat president. In the indirect election, it would mostly pave way for horse-trading. “
1996 and 2001 local body polls: Direct election for mayor, municipal chairman and town panchayats.
2006: Indirect election by means the mayors, municipal Chairmans’ and town panchayat presidents were elected by the elected councillors of the respective local body.
2011: Direct election, the mayors, municipal Chairmans’ and town panchayat presidents were directly elected by the voters.