What started out as a serious affair to iron out objections to the recently announced reservations to civic wards, ended up leaving senior bureaucrats at the end of their wits.
On Friday, officials from the State Election Commission (SEC) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) gave a hearing to citizens, corporators and political activists to counter the 20 objections that were raised.
An Andheri resident, for instance, objected to his ward being reserved as a women's only ward. His grouse? "How will I be able to approach the woman corporator if there's a problem in the locality at 2 am? Won't it be awkward?" A corporator whose ward had been de-reserved made a pointed objection. "How can you de-reserve my ward? What is the logic behind doing this?" The corporator suspected a larger political conspiracy to dethrone him, but was eventually talked into accepting the changed reservation as a mark of destiny.
Yet another objection came from a man who took cue from activist Anna Hazare and demanded electoral reforms. "Please allow me the right to recall my corporator in the next elections. Also, please ensure that the winning candidate has more than 50 % of the votes cast, or else I will continue to object to the elections." The enthusiastic activist had to be reminded that the hearing pertained only to reservations drawn up for the upcoming civic elections.
What stumped officials most, however, was a brutually honest query from a corporator. "Since the election commission has changed my ward's reservation, why should I even work for my subjects in the ward," he said. Officials present could only offer sympathies to the corporator.