Bihar set to hold direct elections for mayors, key posts in urban bodies

Heads and deputy heads of urban local bodies (ULBs) in Bihar will now be elected directly by voters, in a key shift from the prevalent practice of indirect elections in which only elected representatives in these bodies form the electorate, according to amendments to the Bihar Municipal Act which was approved by the state Cabinet on Wednesday.

This means mayor and deputy mayor in municipal corporations, chief councillors and deputy chief councillors in city councils and chairman and deputy chairman of in nagar panchayats will now be elected by voters of the respective urban bodies.

The neighbouring Jharkhand, which was carved out of Bihar in 2000, has been following the practice of direct elections for top positions of ULBs for a long time.

Deputy chief minister Tarkishore Prasad, who also holds the urban department portfolio, said the next polls for ULBs would be held on the new pattern.

Elections for as many as 263 ULBs, which include 19 municipal corporations, 89 nagar parishads and 155 nagar panchayats, are scheduled to be held in May-June this year.

A senior official said the amendments would come in force once approved by the state assembly or through an ordinance.

Meanwhile, the cabinet also gave its nod to six other agendas, including release of 125 crore as advance from the state contingency fund for payment of compensation to the kin of those who died of Covid19 in the last fiscal, revision of licensing/renewal fee for sugar mills and delimitation of three ULBs.

The cabinet meeting, which was scheduled to be held in person, had to be conducted in the mixed format, physical and virtual, as many of the ministers have contracted Covid-19 infection. Deputy CMs Prasad and Renu Devi, excise minister Sunil Kumar, building construction minister Ashok Choudhary and irrigation minister Santosh Suman alias Santosh Manjhi were found positive for Covid-19 in the tests done last night and hence participated in the meeting through virtual mode.

Energy minister Vijendra Yadav, health minister Mangal Pandey and mines minister Janak Ram also joined the meeting through video conferencing, while education minister Vijay Chaudhary and industries minister Shahnawaz Hussain attended the meeting in person.

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