With Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deciding to opt out of the mayoral race, the decks have been cleared for Shiv Sena to win power in Mumbai civic body for the fifth time in a row. The Sena doesn’t have clear majority and the BJP has announced outside support ,with transparency as a pre-condition. It will be more like a live-in relationship, unlike the BJP-Sena combine at state government that looks more like an unhappy marriage.
It is being predicted that the two parties will again engage in a bitter tussle over the functioning of the BMC. However, they would probably do more harm to themselves than good if the city’s governance gets affected in their one-upmanship. The onus is on both, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to deliver.
The outcome of the elections was influenced by polarisation of voters on the basis of linguistic communities, as the Sena played the Marathi card. The Marathi manoos has voted for the Sena but can Thackeray take this support for granted? The BJP may want to introspect why its promise of development evoked limited response. The fractured mandate can be interpreted as the voters’ message to both the parties that they should be paying attention to city’s governance together instead of pointing fingers at each other — as per their convenience.
His slender victory has now given Thackeray as opportunity to deliver in Mumbai. Even Fadnavis would probably want to push the agenda for the city that has given him 50 more seats in the civic body as compared to 2012 polls. They have an efficient commissioner like Ajoy Mehta who can make the civic administration deliver. There are some issues that are crying for attention and serious action by Thackeray-Fadnavis duo. Here is what we the citizens — Marathi and non-Marathi included — would like to raise:
Roads: With the same parties ruling the BMC and state government, we hope there won’t be any blame game over bad roads now. We don’t care if the roads are built and maintained by the BMC, PWD, MSRDC or MMRDA. We the taxpayers have the right to demand roads that do not become a nightmare for us to commute on.
Footpaths: We are really surprised why our politicians do not get embarrassed when we demand that footpaths in Mumbai must be encroachment-free and in good condition. When they go on talking about making Mumbai a global city and an international finance hub, they should look at its footpaths. We don’t need free WiFi, but better footpaths to walk on so that our senior citizens and children do not risk their lives walking on roads.
Filthy city: Except some areas, Mumbai is an unclean city. Why do our public places stink?
Parking mess: There is no discipline in Mumbai. Half of the roads are occupied by illegally parked vehicles especially cars. Fadnavis has taken a good step by pushing ahead the parking policy. Now, we expect both of them to go ahead with it.
Open spaces: It issue become a football match between the Sena and the BJP. We need a citizen-friendly open spaces policy that will give Mumbaiites free access to all playgrounds and recreation grounds. We don’t want the BMC that has budget of Rs 37,000 crore to hand over precious open spaces to private parties in the name of protecting them.
Development Plan: This would be crucial for the city’s future. We hope the controversial provisions that allow reckless vertical development are dropped. The plan must be finalised at the earliest and the authorities should ensure it is implemented entirely unlike what happened to the current one.
Rein in the mafia: The builder-contractor mafia has ruined the civic body’s functioning. We are willing to believe that all politicians and bureaucrats are not corrupt but then we need to see the steps being taken to rein them in.
BEST buses: They need to revive BEST, which will also help counter congestion on Mumbai’s roads. Experts have been insisting on reworking the existing bus routes by studying the changing work pattern of citizens, introduce smaller AC buses so that they will ply faster and more people use them. Plan the BEST more as a feeder route from railway and metro stations.