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Mayoral polls stalled again as MCD house erupts into chaos. AAP asks, ‘Why so much force?’

All 250 councillors, including 10 nominated by Delhi L-G, were administered oath of office by presiding officer Tuesday.

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New Delhi: Slogans were raised and the electoral roll challenged as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) house convened under the cover of heavy police deployment Tuesday to elect its mayor. But the process, expected to begin when the house met last on 6 January, was stalled for the second time this month owing to the adjournment of the house until further notice.

The adjournment was a culmination of the chaos that erupted in the house after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillors objected to the presence of those allegedly ineligible to vote in the mayoral elections on the floor of the house at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Civic Centre on Delhi’s Minto Road, which houses the MCD headquarters and house.

After all 250 councillors elected to the house last December were administered their oaths of office, AAP demanded to see the electoral roll comprising names of councillors eligible to vote in the mayoral polls. The demand spurred a sloganeering contest between the AAP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Slogans like ‘Modi haye haye’ (down with Modi) and ‘Kejriwal chor hai’ (Kejriwal is a thief) were heard on the floor of the house.

A similar commotion had erupted the last time the house met to elect its mayor. Leaders of both parties had later claimed that the commotion on 6 January escalated into a ‘clash’ with councillors from both sides sustaining ‘injuries’.

AAP councillors had then objected to the decision of presiding officer Satya Sharma — appointed by Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Vinai Kumar Saxena — to administer the oath of office first to the 10 aldermen nominated to the 250-member MCD house by the L-G. Nominated councillors cannot vote in the mayoral elections, the AAP contended.

Despite the AAP’s objections, the presiding officer Tuesday administered the oath of office to the ten aldermen before swearing in elected councillors. Before the oaths were administered, Delhi BJP MPs Parvesh Singh Verma and Manoj Tiwari were seen telling councillors to listen to their “antaratma ki awaaz” (voice of their conscience).

For the mayoral polls, the AAP fielded former Delhi University professor Shelly Oberoi as its candidate, and Ashu Thakur as the backup candidate, while the BJP nominated Rekha Gupta, the three-term councillor from Shalimar Bagh. Meanwhile, AAP’s Aaley Iqbal and Jalaj Kumar have been pitted against BJP’s Kamal Bagri for the deputy mayor’s post.

Earlier Tuesday, AAP questioned the heavy deployment of force inside the MCD house. “Can this kind of force, carrying lathis and sticks, and wearing helmets, enter the house,” AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said, while posting a video of armed personnel entering the house.

With the house in session Tuesday, newly-elected councillors were administered the oath of office in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Urdu, and even Sanskrit.

The proceedings were marred by sloganeering with BJP councillors breaking into chants of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Bajrang Bali” from the dais after being administered the oath of office, and at least one AAP councillor, Mohammed Aamil Malik, chanting “Allah Hu Akbar”.

“I hail from Uttar Pradesh, where Sita’s name comes before Ram, so slogans should be Jai Siya Ram, and not Jai Shree Ram,” Congress councillor Shagufta Chaudhary told her colleagues from the BJP.

The AAP has 134 councillors and the BJP 104 in the 250-member MCD house. The Congress has nine councillors but opted out of voting in the mayoral election.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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