The AAP on Wednesday wrested power from the BJP in the high-stakes civic polls in the national capital and all eyes are now on who will be the next mayor of Delhi, even as some leaders of the saffron party claimed that its member could be elected to the top post.
The municipal polls were held on December 4 and the AAP bagged 134 of the 250 wards, emerging has a clear winner, and ending the 15-year rule of the BJP in the civic body.
Poll authorities had earlier said that the entire process of the election will be completed on December 15.
Experts and election watchers have said that the mayoral poll will have to be held soon after the poll process ends.
However, even before that politics has heated up in the national capital, with many BJP leaders claiming that its member could be elected to the top legislative post in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga on Wednesday afternoon tweeted in Hindi that once again Delhi will get "a BJP mayor".
There was no immediate reaction from the AAP which has emerged as the winner in this poll with a comfortable majority.
Delhi BJP president and former mayor of North Delhi Adesh Gupta, when asked if a BJP member could be elected as a mayor of the MCD, said: "Anything can happen. Why can't it happen in politics? See how the AAP was wiped out in the wards under assembly seats represented by Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, facing corruption charges." In a closer-than-expected contest, the BJP, which bucked the trend predicted by exit polls, put up a spirited fight, winning 104 municipal wards, while the Congress managed to win just nine seats, down from 30 in the previous civic poll. Three independents also won.
The BJP also managed to increase its vote share by three per cent as compared to the polls in 2017. It received 39.09 per cent of the total votes polled while AAP's share also soared from 21.09 per cent to 42.05 per cent, according to the State Election Commission data.
The post of mayor is considered prestigious and a Delhi mayor wielded a lot of power until the erstwhile unified MCD, set up in 1958, was trifurcated into North Delhi, South Delhi and East Delhi municipal corporations in 2012 with a mayor each for three civic bodies. The civic bodies were reunified in May 2022.
The post of mayor sees five single-year terms on a rotation basis, with the first year being reserved for women, the second for open category, third for reserved category, and the remaining two also being in the open category.
Former mayor of North Delhi Jai Prakash, who served in the post from 2020-2021, said, according to the old DMC Act, which governs the MCD, besides elected councillors, some nominated members also are eligible to vote in a mayoral poll.
"Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs representing constituencies which comprise wholly or partly the area of the corporation, and one-fifth of the members of the Delhi Assembly representing constituencies, to be nominated by the Speaker, and chairpersons of various municipal committees can vote in a mayoral poll," he said.
Ten aldermen are nominated to the MCD by the Lt Governor, he added.
There are no anti-defection law in the context of the civic body here, experts say.
Meanwhile, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday alleged that the BJP was trying to poach newly-elected AAP councillors and asserted that none of them will fall prey to their "game".
There was no immediate reaction from the BJP.
A senior MCD official said, "The elections are over and now MCD will approach the LG, seeking a date on which the municipal House can be convened so that the councillors can take oath, and then a mayor be elected." According to the DMC Act 1957, "the Corporation shall at its first meeting in each year elect one of its members to be the Chairperson to be known as the Mayor and another member to be the Deputy Mayor of the Corporation." Section 3 of the Act talks about the "establishment of the Corporation", and in the 2022 amendment brought in by the government, this section has remain unchanged, he said.
A constitutional expert and a former State Election Commissioner conjectured that if a mayoral poll is held late December or so, the cycle of mayoral election could be changed, which till 2012 was being held around April time.
Some experts also said that a more clear picture will emerge once the official process progresses further.
Amit Malviya, in-charge of BJP's National Information & Technology Department, in a tweet, wrote: "Now over to electing a Mayor for Delhi… It will all depend on who can hold the numbers in a close contest, which way the nominated councillors vote etc. Chandigarh has a BJP Mayor, for instance."