Amid a tussle between the saffron parties for power in the Mumbai civic body, the BJP-led state government has issued a resolution limiting the decision-making power of the outgoing standing committees of all 10 municipal corporations that went to polls last month.
The chief minister-led state urban development department issued a directive on Tuesday, saying the standing committees of the 10 municipal corporations can have meetings until the newly elected body of corporators takes over. However, they should not take any policy decisions or any decisions concerning the civic body’s finances.
A senior state government official said, “It is a question of legitimacy. The current body has been voted out by the public, so is it right for such a body to take decisions that will impact people and the city’s finances? It is just political convention, similar to the ‘lame-duck period’ referred to in the US when a new president has been elected, but is yet to take over charge.”
The official said while this is not a norm necessitated by the acts governing Maharashtra’s municipal corporation, and is more of a guideline by the state government, this kind of a directive was issued once in the past, too.
The state government has asked all municipal commissioners to bring this directive to the municipal corporations’ notice and take appropriate action. The 10 municipal corporations to which the guidelines apply are Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nagpur, Nashik, Akola, Amravati, Thane, Ulhasnagar and Solapur. After the recently concluded elections, the BJP will significantly have more say across all these corporations, except Thane.
In Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Solapur, Amravati and Ulhasnagar, the party wrested the majority from other political parties. It also retained its hold on Nagpur and Akola, and almost trebled its strength in Mumbai to 82 from 31, in a close contest with the Sena.
The standing committee of the BMC has 27 corporators, a majority of whom are currently from the Sena, the majority party in the civic body. The committee is the most significant in the BMC’s executive as all policy decisions, tenders, work orders and new initiatives have to pass through the standing committee. As such, all its decisions directly or indirectly involve the corporation’s finances.
Sena’s Yashodhar Phanse, standing committee chairman of the BMC, said, “It is wrong to issue such guidelines in a democratic set up. After all, we are empowered to take decisions till March 8, when the current general body’s tenure ends. However, it won’t impact us much as we just have one last meeting scheduled now on March 6, but there is nothing on the agenda besides taking a group picture of the current committee.”
Incidentally, the BMC’s standing committee had a meeting on Tuesday, the day the state government issued its resolution. The committee approved a few routine maintenance works related to roads and drainage.