Mumbai is unlikely to get rid of ugly banners any time soon, if recent statements of Snehal Ambekar, the new mayor, are anything to go by. Toeing the line of former mayor Sunil Prabhu, Ambekar has said there is no need for a ban on banners and hoardings.
"Political banners must be allowed, as they are the only means to connect with people effectively. There is no harm in putting up birthday greetings or other messages, but a time-limit must be set for each banner," said Ambekar.
The civic administration had put forth a policy to ban political banners last September, but it did receive approval in the meetings chaired by Prabhu. Each time, it was sent back for dilution of certain norms.
Ambekar said, "I will not take up the policy in the meeting immediately as the code of conduct [for state polls] is in effect, but I believe banners should be allowed."
In July this year, the high court had asked political parties to submit an undertaking stating no banners would be put up by their workers.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party, Nationalist Congress Party and Republican Party of India promised the court they would abide by the orders, the Shiv Sena, Congress and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena did not represent themselves in court, despite being sent notices.
Activists and citizens slammed the Sena for delaying an important policy. "All those responsible for the delay must be punished for contempt of court. The mayor should have said she would find a solution to the problem. Her views are a disappointment," said Nikhil Desai, an activist from Matunga.