What Mumbai really wants

Feb 18, 2012, 07:03 IST | MiD DAY Correspondent

The Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI alliance has won the elections to the BMC, but the real story begins now.

The Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI alliance has won the elections to the BMC, but the real story begins now. The Sena had fielded 79 new candidates, of which 54 have won in their respective constituencies. Thackeray Jr had fielded only 25 sitting corporators, of which only 14 retained their seats.

Every Sena and BJP corporator, though, has a task at hand -- to begin the process of regaining Mumbai's past glory. This is easier said than done. They must start at the very beginning by asking the fundamental question: What does Mumbai want? This newspaper has a few responses to that question from its citizens. Perhaps the Sena-BJP-RPI alliance would do well to listen to citizens first.

Citizens want good governance, involving a systemic overhaul of BMC's corruption-ridden system of working. Is the Shiv Sena, being the majority partner in the alliance, ready to do that?

Sena cannot claim that the results of the elections are proof that the people of Mumbai have confidence in their ability to govern. The truth is that Sena has won the BMC elections because the people of Mumbai had no credible alternative. The sins of commission by the Congress and its alliance partners at the state and the Central levels were enough to put off the voters in Mumbai. Raj Thackeray's MNS did not provide a strong alternative political force that the city so desperately needs.

Mumbai also wants a city-specific public policy regime that makes the lives of people easier and lets the city retain its numero uno position for commerce. At present, the crumbling infrastructure and the sheer burden of political and bureaucratic incompetence is driving entrepreneurs out of the city, and leaving the rest frustrated. This is not an encouraging sign.

Roads, public transportation, cleanliness, public health, an efficient water system etc are some things that the new dispensation would need to look at. The good news is that since most of the winning candidates are new (from the Sena and from MNS), they would want to earn their spurs quickly. The bad news is that the rot is so deep that it would take years of effort to overhaul it. But therein lies the challenge. Is the Sena-BJP-RPI alliance up to it? It needs to answer this question soon.

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