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State to revive the process of direct elections for municipal council presidentship

The state government on Tuesday decided to revive the process of direct elections for municipal council presidentship with a view to make the civic body’s administration more effective and efficient. The decision was taken at the weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The state government had implemented this process during 2002-06 before discarding it and reverting to the election process which existed before 2002 where the municipal council president was elected by the councillors.

The state minister for finance and planning, Sudhir Mungantiwar, said the decision pertains to municipal councils, direct elections to presidents of municipal councils and multi-member civic wards. “As per the decision, voters will directly elect council presidents and that every ward shall have two councillors each,” he said.

Ram Patkar, who was the first directly elected president of Kulgaon-Badlapur municipal council in 2002, welcomed the decision. He said the council presidents should be given administrative and financial powers to implement welfare and infrastructure projects and the local councillor and the president works at the grassroots level and has understanding of the need of civic infrastructure in an area be it construction of roads, reservation on plots. Patkar added that the system of directly elected president in municipal councils will enable popular candidates getting elected as presidents.

Sources said the decision was necessitated keeping in mind the ensuing elections to 195 municipal councils in the state that are due in November-December this year.

There are 223 municipal councils in Maharashtra, which are categorised as A, B and C depending upon the population. The decision shall necessitate amendment to section 51 of the Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act, 1965. The Act earlier provided for the elected councillors to elect the president from among themselves.

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