|Outgoing PMC mayor Afzal Imam and (above) his deputy Vinay Kumar Pappu
Four days before the election for mayor and deputy mayor posts, the 72 Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) councillors are divided into groups with political overtone.
Civic polls are not contested on party symbols, but political outfits are getting involved in the mayor and deputy mayor election tacitly. Alliances different from those in vogue in the state politics are being forged at some closed-door meetings of some councillors.
A section of councillors are in favour of retaining outgoing mayor and JD(U) loyalist Afzal Imam in the top post. The other name doing the rounds for the key job is Sanjay Kumar, backed by some BJP leaders.
The list of prospective candidates for the deputy mayor’s posts is even longer and interesting. The councillors backing Imam want Binod Kumar, associated with the RJD, as the deputy mayor. Outgoing deputy mayor Vinay Kumar Pappu is keen to stage a comeback. BJP loyalists Sushma Sahu, Deepak Chaurasia and Rupnarain Mahto also enjoy support of a few councillors.
The councillors will gather on June 10 to take oath. They will elect the mayor and the deputy mayor the same day. The state election commission has appointed district magistrate in charge Manoj Kumar as the electoral officer for the polls at the collectorate.
Though the civic polls were not held on party lines, the BJP leaders are taking keen interest in creating a consensus among councillors attached with the party over the two posts. But they have achieved little success in promoting former mayor Sanjay Kumar as the mayoral candidate.
About 39 councillors under the banner of United Parishad Morcha are backing sitting mayor Imam as the mayoral candidate. They have floated Binod’s name for the post of deputy mayor.
Imam himself is lobby- ing hard to retain his chair. He claimed that while 37 votes are required to win the election, he has the support of 39 councillors.
At least two major factions are dead against Imam’s candidature, though. Not only his outgoing deputy Vinay Kumar Pappu turned into his bęte noir, the councillors attached with the BJP are also dead against his candidature.
The BJP, which has a stronghold in the state capital traditionally, has an uphill task of pacifying a group of dissenting councillors and building a consensus for common choices for the posts. While BJP MLAs Nitin Naveen and Arun Sinha are pitching hard for Sanjay, not many in the camp want him as mayor.
“Councillors attached with the BJP have constituted Vikassheel Parishad Morcha and have held two meetings so far. One meeting was attended by 40 councillors, while 36 took part in another. We have convened another meeting on Thursday. Thereafter, we will finalise two names from the camp,” Sinha told The Telegraph.
More than the mayor, the election for the post of deputy mayor could be more interesting. Outgoing deputy mayor Pappu held a meeting with his confidantes on Wednesday. The BJP camp has three probables for the post. While there is tough fight between old party loyalists Deepak Chaurasia and Rupnarain Mahto, women councillors are in favour of promoting Sushma Sahu for the chair.
All the three camps — United Parishad Morcha, Vikassheel Parishad Morcha and the group of Pappu — are yet to announce the names of their candidates officially.