BJP installs its mayor in south Delhi

BSP man second in command in corporation where no party secured majority

Senior BJP leader and three-time councillor Savita Gupta was elected mayor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation after a secret ballot on Wednesday. Gupta defeated Congress-backed Nationalist Congress Party candidate Phool Kali by 20 votes.

Of the 112 total votes polled, Gupta got 66 votes while Phool Kali got 46.Bahujan Samaj Party’s Bir Singh was elected deputy mayor unopposed. Elections to SDMC’s six-member standing committee also faced no opposition.The south Delhi mayorship contest was keenly watched as none of the parties had managed to win a majority in the 104-member House. With five MPs and five MLAs also having the right to vote for a mayor of their choice, the total valid votes had gone up to 114.

While Bharatiya Janata Party has 46 members (44 councillors and two MLAs), Congress has 29 councillors, three MLAs and five MPs; NCP six, BSP five, Indian National Lok Dal three, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Janata Dal (United) one each, and 14 independents. A close contest was expected after NCP claimed support of BSP and 10 independents, while Congress votes rose to 37. But it turned out to be no contest.

Congress seemed to have given up even before voting since two of its MPs — Sandeep Dikshit and Ramesh Kumar — did not turn up to vote. Congress did give signs of a battle when its three MPs Mahabal Mishra, Parvez Hashmi (RS) and Ajay Maken entered the House. Presiding officer Subhash Arya announced the result in favour of Sarita Gupta, leading to a huge cheer in the House from BJP supporters.The voting also had its share of drama when Hashmi was not allowed to vote after BJP raised objections that there was no proof to suggest he was a resident of the SDMC area. He was allowed to vote after he showed some documents to the presiding officer. The BJP, by giving the deputy mayor’s post to BSP, not only managed to win the support of its five councillors but also persuaded two other deputy mayoral candidates to withdraw their nominations.

Gupta said she will focus on making south Delhi cleaner and greener, and regularise unauthorised colones as well. Budget for SDMCSDMC will build its own headquarters similar to Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Civic Centre, which was the MCD’s headquarters before its trifurcation. This building is now being used as the headquarters of both north and south municipalities.

SDMC will also give priority to completing ongoing projects by using its surplus budget of Rs 360 crore. In its first House meeting on Wednesday, SDMC approved a total budget of Rs 2,773 crore for the current fiscal year, of which total expenditure is Rs 2,414 crore, creating a surplus of Rs 360 crore.“The surplus amount will be used to complete ongoing projects and in building the new headquarters,” said Manish Gupta, SDMC commissioner.He said a major share of the budget went to education — at least 24 per cent. Sanitation services got 17 per cent and 15 per cent has been earmarked for developmental work.SDMC is the biggest corporation among the three newly-formed civic agencies.

It covers 846 sq km and caters to 59 lakh people in the Capital. Part of the reason why it has surplus money is because 55 per cent of its revenue comes from property tax in posh areas and 43 per cent from parking sites.

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