For 40 years, elections to the Mumbai District Co-operative Housing Federation have allegedly been conducted in an unfair manner. Now, the housing society watchdog has ordered a probe into the poll process.
According to a complaint lodged by the Maharashtra Housing Welfare Association, a non-profit body, elections to the federation, an umbrella body of at least 35,000 housing societies across the city and suburbs, involve denial of voting rights to societies other than a favoured few.
Of 35,000 societies in Mumbai and its suburbs, each can depute a member of its executive body to vote for the federation’s poll. But the housing welfare association claims the federation has denied membership right to 16,500 societies by denying them the right to membership. Of the 18,500 who are eligible, only 2,000 have the voting right.
Chairman of the welfare association Ramesh Prabhu said the federation poll is akin to the city’s civic election. “Many societies are denied right to vote on flimsy, technical grounds like non-payment of annual membership fee of Rs350,” said Prabhu who has written to the chief minister and to the registrar and secretary of housing societies. “They’ve managed to narrow down their voters’ list to a few favourites so that specific people get elected.”
Another activist said that the federation poll is important as issues pertaining to housing societies can be raised and sorted out at this platform. “Also, six members elected to the federation are appointed as directors of the Mumbai District Cooperative Bank which has a turnover is at least Rs35,000 crore,” he said, hinting at involvement of financial interests.
Housing societies joint registrar Sandeep Deshmukh confirmed receipt of a complaint. “Seems there could be a grain of truth in the allegations and we’ve issued a probe order. We will ensure that the next poll is fair and free,” Deshmukh told DNA.
Emphasising the need for transparency, Prabhu said that the federation must declare the date of election and procedure in advance.
Calls to the chairman of Mumbai District Co-operative Housing Federation, Anil Jadhav, went unanswered.