Vishakha Raut seeks more executive powers for Mumbai mayor

 Shivaji Park
Vishakha Raut seeks more executive powers for Mumbai mayor

Mumbai - Vishakha Raut, who was mayor of Mumbai in 1997-98, said she would be happier with more executive powers for the mayor's post in the BMC.

The mayor's post has for long been a decorative one. The mayor is the first citizen of Mumbai, but the role is largely ceremonial and real powers are vested in the municipal commissioner. However, the post is eyed by most political parties that gain a majority in the civic body, and is crucial when allies begin bargaining for plum posts within the corporation after every civic election.

Last year, Congressman Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament to amend the Constitution for strengthening local governments. The bill aimed to establish strong leadership for cities by providing for a directly elected and empowered mayor. The passage of the 74th Constitution Amendment in 1992 resulted in Urban Local Bodies becoming a constitutionally recognised 'institution of self-government'. However, it did not prescribe the manner of election, tenure or powers of the Mayors/Chairpersons of these bodies.

In contrast, the New York mayor's post comes with unique executive powers - hiring and firing the people heading the city's key agencies like police and schools, while also setting the budget.

Raut, a school teacher, who has been cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar's classteacher at the Shardashram High School, said that the BMC will have to find new ways of revenue generation, once the General Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill is passed. The Shiv Sena has also worked out some options for the BMC's proposed revenue generation, but Raut said that the state government would also have to contribute more to the BMC's kitty to keep the city running.

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