As the elections to the country’s largest civic body draw nearer, discussions on the role of the corporator have assumed great significance.
In line with this, the Lok Satta Party organised the seminar ‘Accountability in Mumbai Civic Governance’ on Friday, which focused on the seeming erosion of accountability of corporators.
Describing that accountability lies in being accessible to the common man, Shyama Kulkarni, trustee, Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), said: “I want to ask every political party: Will your corporator be available to the aam aadmi? Will he tend to citizens’ complaints on a day-to-day basis?”
“Political leaders are, in the real sense, representatives of our societies. If there’s a paucity of quality politicians, deeper introspection is required,” said Madhav Bhandari, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader.
Nitai Mehta, founder trustee of the NGO Praja Foundation, which had released report cards on every corporators’ functioning, said that elected representatives rarely deal with issues relevant to the common man in ward committee meetings. “According to our findings, the issue widely raised by corporators across wards has been on naming or renaming of roads,” said Mehta.
Parul Kumtha of the NGO Citispace underlined the need for corporators to provide basic necessities such as open spaces.
YP Singh, a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer brought attention to the absence of a legal definition for ‘accountability.’ “Unless the law defines it, unfulfilled promises of elected representatives cannot be justified in the court of law,” he said.
The seminar also saw representation from forums fielding citizen candidates. Hansel D’souza, convenor, Mumbai Nagrik Manch, and Ram Ramdas, Mumbai spokesperson, Lok Satta Party, called for better citizen engagement with the political process.