The collective outrage against the gang-rape of a young journalist in Mumbai has brought to the forefront some of the latent political and social demands with regards to law and order and city administration.
One such proposal raised by Member of Parliament Milind Deora, who has put forth his long standing suggestion for a directly elected mayor to run the affairs on Mumbai.
In a article on his website, titled 'Direct Mayor, Direct Accountability', he stated, “All the MPs, MLAs & Municipal Councillors elected from Mumbai are capable people but are hostage to an inefficient governance model. There's no ONE person in charge of Mumbai”
He further states, “Mumbai needs to be run by Mumbaikars who understand the intricacies of governing this large metropolis. Devolution of power is therefore the answer. A directly elected Mayor will be accountable to Mumbai's voters, with the power to coordinate governance across departments and agencies within the State government. This is a globally proven urban governance model and also a politically pragmatic solution in the interest of every Mumbaikar.”
And he is right! Historically, a mayor in the city council is the highest raking officer of the municipal government. In Mumbai though, a mayor mostly holds a ceremonial position apart from certain duties such as presiding over the the city's Municipal corporation. Even the BMC's own website refers to the mayor's primary role to include “the decorative role of representing and upholding the dignity of the city”.
However, this is not the first time that such a demand has been made. Following the Mumbai floods of July 26, 2005, several activist groups and people put forth the idea of vesting more powers to the position of the city, the candidate to which would also be directly elected.
Were that to happen, the Mayor would become one of the most powerful people in the city, not in arbitrary sense as much as for the accountability of the city's policies. The mayoral administration would then reflect those of some of the major cities of the world, while simultaneously allowing the citizens to directly participate in the working of the city municipality. In a earlier report, Deora claimed that such a system was possible to implement and that the solution to the same was already provided in the constitution under 73rd and 74th amendments.
The subject was once again brought up couple of year's ago at a high-profile economic forum, where the Municipal commissioner himself stated that “it was a model worth exploring”, adding that such a person who has been elected directly by the people would be accountable to them thus providing solutions to governance bottlenecks.
But considering the sea of humanity that calls this city home, it begs the question if whether directing responsibility towards just one office would yield better governance results, or if it would simply provide a master scapegoat to take the fall of the inability of the rest of them.
Let us know what you think about providing a stronger role and more power to Mumbai's Mayor.