Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday promulgated an ordinance enabling indirect elections for the post of Mayor and Chairperson in urban local bodies. The ordinance will apply to 15 corporations, 121 municipalities and 528 town panchayats.
For the last three years, Tamil Nadu has not held local body elections. The delay according to the government was due to a delimitation process that was underway in the state. The decision to go for indirect election for mayor and other heads of local bodies was taken at a Cabinet meeting a couple of days ago. Though Deputy Minister O Panneerselvam claimed tongue in cheek that it was not even discussed, the opposition DMK dismissed his denial and said the Government was afraid to face the people and was seeking to control local bodies through councillors other ward members.
The Tamil Nadu Municipal Laws (Fifth Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, states:“Taking into account the advantages like better accountability and collective responsibility of elected representatives and in the interest of the smooth functioning of the urban local bodies, the government has decided to amend the laws relating to municipal corporations, municipalities and town panchayats to provide for indirect election to the office of Mayor of municipal corporations and chairperson of municipalities and town panchayats.”
As the State Assembly was not in session, Governor Banwarilal Purohit had promulgated the ordinance to give effect to the changes in local body elections, the Government said.
The ordinance has amended hosts of legislation, including Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act of 1919, Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act of 1920, Madurai City Municipal Corporation Act of 1971 and Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation Act of 1981.
“The council at its first meeting hall elect one of its councillors to be the Mayor,” the ordinance has stated. The same process will be followed for chairman in municipalities.
The government has said that when “Mayor or chairperson belongs to one particular political party and the majority of the councillors belong to other political parties, they fail to get cooperation from the councilors, resulting in conflict and smooth functioning of the council gets affected.”
If they are instead elected by councillors, “there will be stability and harmony between councillors and heads of urban local bodies”, an explanatory statement has said.