Loss of civic sense

The unruly behaviour witnessed on Tuesday at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is shocking and downright unacceptable, even if it is not surprising. Politics trumped civility, and the city lost. The politicians got their photo-op.

It is not just the behaviour of Mumbai’s civic representatives that is of concern, but also their way of addressing the city’s issues. Their total disdain and in fact, distance, from the real issues, has created a trust gap between the two. The city may have a distinct identity across the globe, but these petty issues seem to be of no concern to our city fathers (and mothers). They keep looking the other way when confronted with issues such as quality roads, reliable water supply, efficient public transport, etc. It requires hard work, while violence inside the house is a straight ticket to getting featured in the media.

On Tuesday, the civic body passed a resolution on taking back the piece of land leased out to Royal Western India Turf Club for the Mahalakshmi Race Course. Shiv Sena, which is the biggest party in the BMC for more than a decade, wants to develop the land as a theme park with an intention to erect a memorial for its founder, the late Bal Thackeray.

In alliance with its partner BJP, it could easily have approved the resolution. But it chose to muzzle the Opposition, led by the Congress. No discussion was allowed, leading to chaos that ultimately led to a physical confrontation. The debate could have been interesting as it would have enlightened Mumbai’s residents about the Sena’s plan. The Congress’ stand on the issue and the views expressed in the BMC meeting would have been interesting in view of the Sena’s cordial relations with some of the senior leaders of the party. 

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