Whatever the verdict today, Mumbai's Councillors will have to put party politics aside and start with some effective local governance to fix the city's issues.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has 227 Councillors for the city's various municipal wards. Ideally as the results pour in, by this evening, most Mumbaikar's should know who their new councillor is. This is going to be very important, as for the next five years, our local ward councillor is probably going to be the only politician in the city that's going to give the average Mumbaikar the time of day.
On average a ward in Mumbai has around 42,000 voters and Mumbai on average has five major parties (Shiv Sena , BJP, MNS , NCP and INC ) all gunning for your vote apart from the hordes of smaller parties who have made their debut this year and the independents who come in year after year to contest in the ward elections.
What this effectively means is, whoever wins the ward election, will still require your vote, come next election, even if you haven't voted for them this time. In ward elections, literally every vote counts, which is why political parties campaign so hard and why the elections end up being so closely fought.
So when the results are declared on Thursday, it may be important for you as a local citizen to find out where your local councillor's office is and note down their numbers. It is the job of your local councillor to take up your case with the BMC on your behalf. Say, if your area is not being cleaned, you can file a complaint with the BMC and send a copy to your local councillor. You can then visit them and ask them to follow up on it. In the next election, when they visit your house to canvass for votes, you can hold them responsible and ask them what they did about your complaints. If you didn't like their performance and think you can do a better job, you can run against them, because the electorate is so small you may actually stand a chance of putting up a decent fight.
This is why, members elected after Thursday's results will be forced to put party lines aside and cooperate if enough public pressure is put on them to fix the city's issues. The election is only half the story. The public needs to continually monitor the performance of their elected representatives, bring issues to their attention and follow up with their officers. Give your elected representatives sleepless nights so that they are forced to fix the city's issues. It is they who have the mandate under law to oversee the work the BMC is doing.
The details of your new councillors will be on the MCGM's website ideally a few days after they are elected along with their e-mail id's. So the next time you see a pothole, take a photo and e-mail it to your Councillor with a request for it to be fixed. Similarly, if you think your local BMC school needs improving, or you need the garbage cleared off from your locality, or if you had a bad experience at a BMC run hospital or nursing home, use your smartphone and drop your councillor an e-mail. What would be even better is to find the local party office of your councillor and seek an appointment to meet them and flag the issues that concern you and your locality.
If you get enough people in the neighbourhood to keep putting pressure on the local councillor, they will be forced into action. If you find that you can't meet the councillor, make a note of it and hold it against them in the next election, when they come to your house and canvass for votes.
These are small elections with small electorates. Your vote actually counted and will continue to count for the next five years! So as a citizen do something that will feel unique in a mammoth democracy like ours. Take full advantage of your franchise and help improve your city and locality.
Updated Date: Feb 23, 2017 13:10 PM