Recently a female aspirant for a poll ticket stumped the observers of a political party during an interview. When asked if she was ready to spend money on election campaigning, she said she would sell her house if needed. “She said it wouldn’t take her long to recover the amount once she gets elected,” said an observer present at the interview.
Getting elected to the civic body, which has a budget of approximately Rs21,000 crore, is now seen as a lucrative business. “The whole scenario has changed dramatically in politics,” said Prakash Bal, a political commentator.
“The focus has changed to making money and brokering deals instead of providing service to the public.”
“With real estate prices reaching exorbitant levels, corporators pocket anywhere between Rs10 and Rs50 lakh for each project from builders,” alleged Communist Party of India leader Narayan Ghagre. “They are even demanding apartments since they see many builders tweaking rules.”
Annual development fund of Rs65 lakh given to corporators is also seen as another lucrative money spinning opportunity.
It is alleged that corporators take a 2-10% cut from contractors. Another cut of 1-10 % is guaranteed in the budgetary fund.
“While the corporators become rich, the city suffers. Contractors cut costs to give them the money,” said Sharad Kumar, trustee, Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI).
Unhappy with the state of affairs, former deputy mayor Arun Deo, said, “Instead of taking care of their constituencies, corporators are more focused on making money and the citizens are the main casualty.”
Another major advantage of being a corporator is that it is a step towards becoming a legislator.
“We can work and become famous which helps during the assembly elections,” said a corporator requesting anonymity.