The decision to postpone the electoral polls for the Shimla Municipal Corporation that were expected to be held towards the end of the May 2017 has given the opposition and rival parties sufficient ammunition to continue lambasting ruling Congress-Government in Poll bound Himachal Pradesh. Bhartiya Janata Party’s repeated statements over the deferring has amplified chaos in political arena while common citizens or the vote-bank is confused as to whom to believe. Apparently, opposition is sure to highlight it as Government’s trickery in all upcoming rallies. After Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Shimla first pointed out the discrepancies in final electoral rolls and demanded revision. BJP joined the protest against the polls with erroneous electoral rolls and demanded revision. On May 8, a meeting of SMC House was called where all the councilors agreed to postpone the polls and fix the discrepancies in electoral rolls. All ward councilors including those of BJP had favored revision of the electoral rolls to ensure no voter is deprived of his/her right to vote. Now, the scene has become quite confusing as BJP has focused all its strength in preaching that the postponement was pre-planned by the CPI(M) and Congress fearing loss.
State Elections Commission Working Under Govt.’s Diktat, says BJP
As per BJP, the decision is unconstitutional as it violates Section 242 of Indian Constitution. The former Chief Minister, PK Dhumal, had even submitted a memorandum to the Governor, Acharya Devvrat on Saturday labeling it as an undemocratic decision. It further challenged that the State Election Commission isn’t a competent body to take decision to postpone SMC polls. BJP alleged that the SEC is working under diktat of the Government. BJP, in media statements, claims that the Government is worried that it’ll lose SMC polls owing to Modi wave that recently swept Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, and Delhi Municipal Corporation polls. The tenure of current elected MC House is ending in the first week of June. Clearly, the elections were meant to be held before the end of the current tenure. However, now, the State Election Commission has announced that elections are postponed by at least one month. The revision of electoral rolls is expected to be completed by June 23, thus, stretching the schedule for polls to the month of July.
Why BJP Councilors Didn’t Object Postponement in SMC House Meet?
Congress is rebuking BJP for its double standard policy over the issue. BJP’s 12 councilors, as per Congress, had supported the postponement of polls in the meeting held on May 8 where it had agreed that the electoral rolls is erroneous and required revision. However, right after the announcement of the decision, BJP started alleging it a conspiracy ahead of HP Assembly Polls due by the end of current year. Congress asked BJP that if the decision was unconstitutional, then why it didn’t objected to it in the SMC House Meet and why its councilors raised hand in support of postponement.
Does Postponement of SMC Polls Matter?
From BJP’s statements, the biggest logic that can be given to justify deferring SMC polls as a pre-planned conspiracy is that the results of civic body polls would have worked as exit poll for the assembly elections. BJP believes, this time Congress as well as CPI (M) are destined to lose SMC polls. Through delay in the polls, the Government is trying to buy more time. The question is that can SEC and the State Government can risk their credibility by working in nexus.
Without any doubt, the BJP has mastered the trend of exploiting media to create confusion and fit doubts in the minds of voters. Repetition of statements, irrespective of their validity in several cases, to damage the rival’s credibility is working exactly like the advertisements on TV do. Currently, the public in India, especially the common ones, are very vulnerable to drama created by political parties as part of their cunning strategy.
However, the Chief Minister has clarified that objections regarding discrepancies in the electoral rolls were received from every part of society as well as political arena. So, it would be undemocratic to go ahead with faulty voters list.
But no one appears to actually establish guilt of authority responsible to preparation of error free electoral roll to ensure conduction of elections as per schedule. If voters have pointed out errors in the list, then it’s essential to fix them. Also, it’s valid question as to why the BJP didn’t raise the same objections in the meeting held to take decision on postponement.