If your neighbourhood were to be overflowing with garbage, and you had to go over roads with potholes every time you had to go to work or elsewhere, chances are that you would vote for someone who could set things right rather than bother about their ideological predilections. This is something that the Congress may want to consider after successive losses at the municipal level both in Mumbai and now Delhi. Many may say that the municipal elections are an indicator of what may come ahead in the bigger ticket elections. And, well they might be. But each election sends out a signal of the people’s aspirations. And they are growing by the day. The BJP may be sitting pretty now, but it must know that it has to deliver the goods in terms of civic infrastructure and amenities if it wants to keep its run of good luck going. Today, we see that people are taking matters into their own hands whether it is local security or, in the case of the high-rises which have come up in the metros, even power and water. What then, is the role of the municipal corporation?
As things stand now, almost all the candidates who stood for elections seem to have realised that the days when red tape could rule and, thus, give undue power to elected representatives is over. Rather, today the municipal corporator is expected to be a facilitator, who can get things done without a person having to go through too much trouble. People are more and more keen on making sure that their own surroundings are looked after. And this kind of concern does not come a day late. Infectious diseases are spread by vectors which thrive in unhygienic conditions. Proper sanitation work in drains and local garbage collections centres would go a very long way towards eliminating such ailments. Hygiene is, of course, one aspect of the duties that the municipal authorities are meant to do. Law and order are very much in the ken of the municipal authorities.
As cities grow and bring every greater demands on the workplace, it is imperative that law and order are also looked into and secured for people in newer industries which may require them to work for longer hours in places far from their homes. There have been unpleasant instances recently, in which women in particular have been targeted by personnel whose credentials had not been verified. These are the many challenges that a municipal corporation has before it. The proof of the pudding, as we have always said, is in the eating. And perhaps the vote has just done that in anticipation.