Pradeep Pattanayak

Dharamgarh NAC in Kalahandi district as well as Jagatsinghpur and Bhadrak Municipalities have been in the spotlight ever since the urban poll results were declared due to the emergence of an unprecedented situation.

In these three urban bodies, the majority of councillors belong to the ruling BJD party. But a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate has won the Chairman seat in Dharamgarh NAC and a Congress candidate has been voted to Chairman post in Jagatsinghpur Municipality. In Bhadrak Municipality, an Independent candidate has wrested the Chairman post. 

In total, 32 municipalities/NACs are witnessing such cliffhanger situation. Of the total 105 chairman posts; 16 and seven have gone to the BJP and Congress, respectively. Independent candidates have emerged victorious in nine places. 

The unusual situation in these urban bodies has given rise to many speculations, like: How will the Chairmen and Independent candidates work with the councillors of other party/ies? Will the councillors co-operate with the Chairmen at the time of passing any resolution for developmental works? If the Chairmen do not get cooperation, what will be the fate of several developmental projects?

In such a peculiar situation, while on one hand the Chairmen claim that they will always give equal importance to the councillors of other parties, the councillors on the other have made it clear that they will always follow the direction of their party. 

“I will carry on all the required developmental works to make the NAC number one. To achieve this, I will take all the councillors, irrespective of their party affiliation, along with me,” said Dharamgarh NAC Chairman Ashok Mohanty.

Echoing Mohanty’s views, Jagatsinghpur Municipality Chairperson, Archhana Singh, said she had fought the election on the promise of making the town beautiful. “It is not possible without cooperation from all,” Singh said. 

A Councillor of Jagatsinghpur Municipality, Monaj Mohanty said, “We will cooperate with the Chairperson only if she seeks our involvement. Otherwise, we will oppose her.”

Intellectuals, former administrative officers and Constitution experts alike attribute the present stalemate-like situation in municipalities/NACs to the direct election to the post of Chairman. 

“The present situation signals political instability. It may affect the day to day activities of the municipalities. And most importantly, the situation may also jeopardise the chairmen’s political career because the councillors of a political party who enjoy majority may bring no confidence motion if they wanted so,” opined political analyst Prasanna Mohanty.  

It is to be seen how these 32 municipalities/NACs will perform in coming days.