The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) released the draft delimitation plan on Tuesday. The proposal, however, did not find favour with the ruling BJP.
“We are not happy with the way the electoral panels have been restructured. They have been revised to suit the interests of the NCP,” BJP Pimpri-Chinchwad president Mahesh Landge said, alleging that the Sharad Pawar-led party had a hand in the preparation of the plan. He said some areas have been added to panels and others removed to favour NCP candidates.
Landge, however, also said that the BJP will win the polls in spite of the “manipulation” in the delimitation exercise. “Although we will file objections against the draft delimitation plan, we are confident of winning the elections. In the last five years, we have not done anything wrong,” he said.
Refuting the allegation of foul play, NCP Pimpri-Chinchwad president Sanjog Waghere said: “The State Election Commission (SEC) functions under the Central Election Commission, which is an autonomous body. The NCP has no connection with the restructuring exercise.”
The NCP said the BJP was making such allegations as it was scared. “The BJP is scared of losing the polls and so it is indulging in such things… The NCP is going to return to power after the elections. We will have our mayor,” said Waghere.
Balasaheb Khandekar, who heads the PCMC election department, said, “The entire exercise has been conducted in a fair and transparent manner. We have not done anything under pressure. Everything has been done on the instructions of the SEC. Although political parties have an opportunity to raise their objections by February 14. The SEC will come up with the final delimitation draft after March 2.”
Khandekar said the boundaries of all electoral panels have been modified. “In 2017, every panel elected four corporators. At that time, we had 32 panels. In the forthcoming polls, 45 panels will elect three corporators, whereas one panel will elect four corporators,” he said.
Khandekar said the draft delimitation exercise was conducted based on the 2011 census. “The main criterion is the number of residents in a panel. The maximum population in a panel is around 40,000 while the minimum is around 32,000,” he added.
Khandekar further said, “Some leaders came and discussed the delimitation map with us. There was no protest today but we expect objections to rise in the coming days.”
Sitting BJP Indrayaninagar corporator Seema Savale said, “My panel has been changed drastically. But I was expecting this. I had mentally prepared myself to face this situation.”
Another corporator Asha Shendge said: “Some distant areas like Landewadi have been attached to the Kasarwadi panel. This is very odd. I am going to register my objections.”
PCMC election officials said that as per the draft, Talwade panel has the largest population with 40,767 residents while Sangvi with a population of 32,664 is the smallest.
In 2017, the PCMC had 128 corporators. Whereas in 2022, the civic body will have 139 corporators. Twenty-two panels will be reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates while three will be reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Tribe category. “The decision regarding OBC reservation will depend on the Supreme Court ruling, which is likely to come next week,” Khandekar said.
The last elections were held in February 2017. The 2022 elections were earlier slated to be held in February but got postponed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty over OBC reservation. Last week, SEC officials had hinted that the elections are likely to be held in April.
“After finalising the delimitation plan, we will update the voters list. This exercise will be completed by the third week of March. If the Supreme Court decides on the OBC reservation issue by next month, we will need four to five extra days to finalise things. Therefore, the civic election will most probably take place in April,” SEC officials had said.