Voting to elect representatives who will rule the civic body for next five years is today. 91.80 lakh voters are expected to participate in the process. We don’t know whether the city will continue with its reputation of low voter turnout in civic polls or do better this time.
Throughout the year, we Mumbaiites keep talking about the state of the city and keep criticising corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, as well as greedy builders and contractors, holding them responsible for the mess in Mumbai.
We love to call it an international city but except economic activities there is nothing else in Mumbai that can equate it to international cities. The infrastructure is probably the worst among all major cities. The lesser we speak about our roads, the better. Public transport just take people from point A to B. We have to choose between comfort and speed when we travel. There are not enough open spaces in a city that has a population of over 12 million (according to the 2011 census, could be more). Public places are not clean. Those who are supposed to be taking care of keeping our footpaths and roads free of encroachment and hawkers are shamelessly ignoring it. Walking in this city is a nightmare. We have to leave well in advance to beat the traffic on our way to catch a flight. We pay exorbitantly high prices to buy a house or rent an accommodation. Very few new establishments are coming to our city—thanks to high rentals and tedious commute. Forget redeveloping slums, nobody bothers to control their growing numbers. When it rains heavily, the first thought in our minds is if we will reach home as the city could get submerged and trains stop running. We have nothing to show our guests beyond what the British built. The list is unending.
Most of the credit for this mess in Mumbai goes to our politicians. Not all are bad, but those who want to do something are outnumbered by those who have been treating Mumbai as a cow that can be milked. All prominent parties should share the blame for the same. Nobody would rate the performance of the civic body in the best category. It does well in providing some basic amenities but falters when it comes to a lot other duties. The state government is responsible for the city’s planning. For most politicians in Mantralaya, Mumbai is more about the real estate and less about the people living in it—for obvious reasons.
So does that mean we should not vote because we think the corrupt system will never improve?
Well, we should.
Noting scares politicians more than active citizens. The more they become aware of their rights and demand the same, the more politicians will fall in line. They are smart enough to know what to do—after all, many of them frequent global cities like London and Singapore, some even own property there. It’s just that they don’t want to do better. Today, if we step out in large numbers and vote, they will get the right message — that they can’t take Mumbaiites for granted. The motive of casting our vote is not just to choose a representative but also to let them know that we are serious about the way we should be governed.