Amid high drama and guarded numbers, the polls to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Shimla Municipal Corporation were adjourned for 20 June for want of quorum (two-third majority) on Monday.
“The quorum will not be a binding tomorrow,” said Director, Urban Development, DK Gupta, who conducted the proceedings. Twelve Congress backed councillors, two independents and one CPI (M) man out of total 34 abstained from proceedings after oath as a pre-planned strategy, leaving the BJP backed councillors, now 19 in number, in a state of anxiety.
The BJP, for the first time, is in a position to wrest the prestigious municipality after 31 years. The Congress ruled it for 26 years and the CPI-M had its Mayor and Deputy Mayor elected in 2012 in direct election. The BJP backed candidates won on 17 out of 34 seats in SMC polls and fell short of one for simple majority.
It, however, managed support of two independents, reportedly promising a Deputy Mayor's post to one of its rebels who won. The polls were not held on party symbols.
Being made to stay together outside the state since they were declared elected on Saturday, the BJP councillors, were taken out in complete escort by the party workers and leaders from the venue to vehicles for stay till the election is held. Sensing pressure by ruling Congress, the BJP had put them together at one place since they were called for meeting to BJP office after victory on Saturday to avoid any slip.
The oath taking ceremony took place in a jampacked hall, which was politically charged with BJP slogans. When Director, Urban Development, DK Gupta announced that election cannot be held today as the quorum (26 councillors) was not complete, BJP raised objection.
However, with BJP MLA from Shimla, Suresh Bhardwaj said the High Court had ordered to constitute the House by 19 June and the polls to Mayor and Deputy Mayor should not be postponed. On this, Gupta announced the poll on Tuesday morning.