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In Sena-BJP war ahead of BMC polls, you are the biggest loser

Ever wondered how much you, the voter, are losing ?

mumbai Updated: Jan 24, 2017 09:05 IST
Shiv Sena,BMC polls,elections
In the years since the scams came to light, the parties have fought, but have not tried to improve roads or to put in place a mechanism to prevent flooding .(HT)

There is a pattern to political controversies — parties differ over issues, it makes headlines, people are outraged, and the issues stay unresolved.

Ever wondered how much you, the voter, are losing ?

In the past five years, constant rows between the parties that led the civic body has cost you access to open spaces, parking spaces, rooftop restaurants, a nightlife and a 20-year development plan for the city — just to name a few.

The highlight was the allegations in two multi-crore scams that have rocked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation — the Rs352-crore roads scam and the Rs38 crore desilting scam. The BJP is taking credit for unearthing the scam, its senior leaders harping on how the party is freeing the civic body of “corruption” and “mafia raj”. The Sena pointed out the BJP has been its partner in power and blamed the administration for drawbacks in how drains were desilted and roads laid. In the years since the scams came to light, the parties have fought, but have not tried to improve roads or to put in place a mechanism to prevent flooding .

Similar fighting over the open spaces policy has cost you access to more than 200 parks and grounds.

The issue? A controversial clause in the policy, released in 2015, that would have given some groups power to maintain open spaces. The Sena did not oppose the clause, the BJP has been going back-and-forth.

Finally, CM Devendra Fadnavis stepped in, ordering BMC to take back 216 plots given to various groups. But, the BJP-controlled improvements committee passed an interim policy even before plots from bigwigs were taken back. This allows private groups to maintain plots. Now, the code of conduct is in place and the proposal cannot be passed.

And then, the problem of parking. Mumbai could make space for its vehicles if not for the in-fighting.

The BMC framed a policy to regulate illegal street parking and higher parking rates depending on the area and demand. But citizen groups in the A ward, where the policy was to be tested, objected to the increased fares. Although the policy was passed in the Sena-BJP-controlled BMC, the BJP’s own MLA, Raj Purohit, got it stayed by the state. There has been no decision since 2015.

For the city’s bluprint, the allies took two months to name three corporators for a planning panel to hear citizens’ objections to the 20-year DP. Sources said the squabble this time was over the number of corporators from each party.

The plan looks at how tall buildings can go and development of open spaces, schools and hospitals over the next two decades. The plan was to be released in 2014, but with little attention and constant extensions, it is now expected only in March 2017.

When the BJP-led state proposed that Mumbai enters the Centre-run Smart Cities competition, it was the Sena’s turn to show its clout. It placed 14 conditions that made it impossible for Mumbai to get selected.

“There is a competition between the allies, which has resulted in the neglect of civic issues. The BJP is trying to show it has the upper hand, as the party has started believing it enjoys a popular mandate in Mumbai also — so far Sena’s domain,” said political analyst Surendra Jondhale.

This attempt to assert its dominance reflected in BJP not showing interest in two of Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray’s pet projects — proposals to boost nightlife and allow rooftop restaurants.

Dilip Patel, senior BJP corporator said, “When two parties are together, there are bound to be differences. We have to look at a way out.”

Read more: Sena-BJP talks: Uddhav hints at January 26 deadline

First Published: Jan 24, 2017 09:04 IST