‘Mayor should be elected by people, empowered’
Amidst the celebratory mood in the Shiv Sena-BJP camp, Sunil Prabhu, Mumbai's 72nd mayor, announced his various plans for the city.
But experts and civic activists are asking a pertinent question: Does the mayor have enough power to run the city better?
Under the laws governing the civic body, the powers of the mayor are limited. The post is ceremonial and no executive powers are vested in the mayor. The Mayor only plays a functional role in presiding and deliberating over the discussions of the corporation meetings.
The Municipal Commissioner, appointed by the state government, enjoys real powers and is responsible for approving contracts and taking effectual decisions on the projects that affect the daily lives of citizens.
“The current situation, where real powers are with an appointed official, is certainly not consistent with the theoretical underpinnings of our democracy,” said DM Sukhtankar, former municipal commissioner.
“To move towards a democratic set up, transfer of powers to the elected representatives is necessary. But there should be effective checks and balances too,” Sukhtankar said.
The New York city and London model of mayoral elections found regard among activists and analysts. “Allocating more powers to the mayor in the current system might not be prudent as he might represent his party's interests. But if the mayor is elected directly by the people, he could be given more powers,” said Shyama Kulkarni, a civic activist.