HomeNationMumbai Demands Directly-Elected Empowered Mayor in Council for Effective Governance

Mumbai Demands Directly-Elected Empowered Mayor in Council for Effective Governance

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In a bid to enhance accountability and streamline governance, Mumbai is pushing for a directly-elected and empowered mayor to lead the city. With the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections postponed indefinitely, the focus remains on transforming the civic body into a more efficient and accountable institution.

Mumbai, known as India’s financial capital, operates differently from other metropolitan regions like the National Capital Region (NCR), which function as joint ventures between multiple state governments. In contrast, Mumbai is wholly owned by Maharashtra, leading to a complex management structure with numerous bureaucrats and politicians but lacking a centralized decision-maker.

The current system has resulted in BMC being run by an unelected municipal commissioner, while essential aspects such as law and order, housing, and urban planning are overseen by politicians who are not always elected from Mumbai. The mayor’s position, though ceremonial, lacks real executive power, and the state’s chief minister cannot fully micromanage the vast city.

Additionally, crucial agencies responsible for keeping Mumbai functional, such as the traffic police, BMC, Mumbai Police, MMRDA, MHADA, Railways, and MbPT, operate independently with minimal coordination, leading to inefficiencies and inadequate disaster preparedness.

Mumbai’s predicament is worsened by simultaneous infrastructure projects like the Coastal Road and Metro, leading to disruptions and inconvenience for citizens.

To address these issues, advocates for a directly-elected mayor point to the success of similar systems in global cities like London and New York City. Such a mayor would be elected by the people and held accountable for their performance every five years. This model has proven effective in other Indian states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, which amended their laws to empower voters to elect mayors directly.

While the idea of a directly-elected mayor is not without flaws, it is believed to be a step towards empowering Mumbai to negotiate for greater authority from both the Maharashtra and central governments.

The primary obstacle in realizing this vision has been the lack of demand from the voters. As the BMC elections draw closer, Mumbaikars are urged to make this a central electoral issue and question candidates from all political parties about their stance on a directly-elected and empowered mayor. Such a system would benefit not only the citizens but also MPs, MLAs, and municipal councillors who often face criticism for their inability to address issues beyond their administrative control.

With public support and political will, Mumbai aims to bring about a transformative change in its governance structure, ushering in an era of better accountability, coordination, and decision-making for the city’s prosperity.

(The writer is former Member of Parliament from Mumbai South)


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