RJ Malishka row: Why is BMC losing sleep over a song?
Radio jockey Malishka Mendonsa’s video for a local radio channel, borrowed from a catchy Marathi song, playfully mocks the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) monsoon preparedness and Mumbai’s infamous potholes. It’s funny and hummable and talks about Mumbai’s age-old problems of water logging and bad roads.
It would have been best if the Shiv Sena, the party that rules the BMC, had let this parody video play out its shelf life. After all, the song doesn’t directly target the party. Besides, the blame for bad upkeep of the city rests equally, if not more, with the administration led by the municipal commissioner as much as with the elected corporators. And, commissioner Ajoy Mehta is answerable to the state’s urban development department and the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Instead the Shiv Sena has got into overzealous mode with corporators hitting back and demanding a defamation suit against the RJ. The Sena corporators also criticised the RJ saying she was ill-informed and should have known that both the railways and arterial roads in the city are not under the BMC’s purview.
The Sena’s song and dance over the video has given the Opposition and even it warring ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, ammunition to fire at the Sena. The BJP , which itself faces flak for perceived intolerance of criticism, has characterised the Sena’s attempt to silence Malishka as a hit against personal liberties and freedom of expression.
The BMC administration also hasn’t come out in a good light in this case. The civic body seems to have hit back by using its powers to issue a notice to RJ Malishka’s mother saying dengue-causing mosquitoes were breeding in her house in Bandra. The BMC administration, of course, insists that this notice was the result of a routine survey.
But, remember comedian Kapil Sharma’s case? He got served with a notice for illegal construction only after he complained in a tweet that BMC officials were asking for a bribe to get work done. And, the NGO Praja that audits civic schemes and corporator performances is also at the receiving end over a report released recently on malnutrition in civic schools. The BMC has threatened legal action against the NGO unless it issues a public apology.
While the civic administration has improved over the last two years on a host of parameters, there is little denying that the room for improvement is huge. Instead of hitting back at citizens, artists, and NGOs and accusing them of conspiring against the civic body, it would help if both the political parties and the state-controlled administration took criticism in their stride and helped improve the city’s facilities.