Rajasthan’s Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot on Friday questioned his own government’s decision on elections to the posts of heads of urban local bodies. Taking a stand that appeared to go against the view of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Pilot made it clear he was not consulted on the decision that was notified on Wednesday. Two other ministers in the Congress-run state have separately opposed the move that allows people who are not elected councillors to contest for posts like mayors and chairpersons of corporations and municipalities.
The non-councillor candidates still have to be elected by councillors to the top posts. “This is not a good decision and I do not agree with this. The decision is not practical and not politically right and there is a need to make changes to the decision,” Pilot told reporters in Jhunjhunu.
“We decided to hold indirect election for the posts of mayor and chairperson. This was fine. But suddenly a new decision appeared that I came to know from newspapers. This was not discussed in the cabinet or the legislative party meeting,” he said.
Pilot, who is the Rajasthan Congress president, claimed that the new system, which is being called a hybrid, will allow people to become urban body heads through the back door. He said democracy is not strengthened if a candidate who could not win a councillors’ election is allowed to contest for the mayor’s post.
“Our party and the government have always said that democracy should be strengthened,” he said.
“I do not think such a system has been implemented in any state of the country,” he said, adding that the decision needs to be changed. A gazette notification to amend the rules on election of mayors and chairpersons was issued on Wednesday.
A day later, Food and Civil Supply Minister Ramesh Meena and Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas separately expressed apprehension, saying it could lead to resentment among party workers. Khachariyawas said the system was injustice to those who worked in the field and won councillors’ elections.
When asked about the comments by these two ministers, Gehlot said everyone is concerned about delivering good governance. “The Cabinet, all the MLAs and the entire government is engaged in that. Elections for the local bodies and the Panchayati Raj are coming. We will fight and will win the elections,” Gehlot told reporters in Jhunjhunu.
Pilot and Gehlot were together in Jhunjhunu where they addressed a rally in support of Rita Chaudhary, who is contesting the assembly bypolls for the Mandawa seat. Later, they spoke separately with the media.
Rifts in Rajasthan Congress surfaced after the Assembly elections last December that were followed by intense lobbying for the chief minister’s post. While Gehlot was picked by the central leadership for the top post, Pilot had to settle for the deputy’s spot. Recently, Pilot expressed concern over the law and order situation in the state and his remark were seen as a comment on Gehlot’s performance.