Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Issues of Governance in Urban India

Bhanu Joshi

The Mayor in the Indian cities is more like a ceremonial head and has a limited executive leadership. The state governments usually undermine the role of the Mayor depending upon the electoral undercurrents. This has been the case in many states and the megacities do not better[1].
 
In most Indian cities the Mayor performs ceremonial functions with very limited executive responsibilities. The Mayor-in-Council system in Calcutta is an exception. There can be no accountability without authority; related to this is also the question of tenure; in many Indian cities the tenure varies from one year to five years and in some cases like Maharashtra, Gujarat 2 ½ years; direct or indirect election of the Mayor is also an issue. If the Mayor is only ceremonial, it does not matter if the post has a single person focus. If on the other hand if mayor as the executive head is preferred a Mayor-in-Council or Chairman-in-Council system which is similar to a cabinet or a Standing Committee arrangement involves the sharing of power. In West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh for both Corporations and Municipal councils this system is followed. However, the Mayor is the person who appoints members of the Mayor-in-Council or President-in-Council.
Table 1: Election of Mayors in Megacities – Direct or Indirect along with the Tenure of the Mayor
No
State
Election
Term
1
Andhra Pradesh
Indirect
Five years
2
Karnataka
Indirect
One year
3
Tamil Nadu
Direct
Five years
4
West Bengal
Indirect
Five years
5
Maharashtra
Indirect
Two and a Half year


Table 4:
No
State
MPs & MLAs Members/Not Members in ULB
MPs & MLAs having Voting/Non Voting rights
1
Andhra Pradesh
Are Members
Can’t Vote
2
Assam
Non Members
3
Bihar
Are Members
Can Vote
4
Goa
Non Members
5
Haryana
Are Members
Can’t Vote
6
Himachal Pradesh
Non Members
7
Karnataka
Are Members
Can Vote
8
Maharashtra
Non Members
9
Orissa
Are Members
Can’t Vote
10
Punjab
Non Members
11
Rajasthan
Are Members
Can Vote
12
Sikkim
Non Members
13
Tamil Nadu
Are Members
Can’t Vote
14
Uttar Pradesh
Are Members
Can’t Vote
15
West Bengal
Non Members
Can’t Vote
16
Gujarat
Non Members
17
Madhya Pradesh
Non Members
Source: State Municipality Acts













Is a directly elected Mayor or a Chairperson more representative of the electorate in a city? If so, can that person be made more accountable? Will this accountability be enhanced by the fact that having come to power by direct election, his position is secure for the five-year duration?

Table 3 : Ward Sizes, Area and Population of principal Municipal Corporation in megacities
Municipal Corporation
Wards
Area (sq. km)
Population (2001)
Population (2011)
Mumbai
227
480
1,19,78,450
1,24,78,447
Kolkata
141
187
43,13,248
44,86,679
Chennai
200
426
43,43,645
46,81,087
Bangaluru
198
741
43,13,248
84,25,970
Hyderabad
150
650
25,15,589
68,09,970
In most of the megacities the Member of Parliament and the Member of state legislative assemblies occupy the same area as that of the wards in the ULB. While the MP’s constituency covers around 3 million people, that of a MLA covers half of this. Most of the time the wards in the urban local body are superimposed by many Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies. The number of Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies in the urban areas increased post delimitation in 2009. This also meant that the number of representatives from the urban areas also increased but hasn’t been commensurate to the increasing population in the urban areas.
MPs & MLAs are constitutionally barred from occupying “double membership” while this has been relaxed in the case of representation of MPs & MLAs in the urban local bodies. In most of the city corporations, the MPs and MLAs are invited as members and some of them have voting powers as well (Table4). Even if the members do not have the voting powers they make considerable impact to the functioning of the city corporation. This becomes complex as a ‘reverse system’ of nominated local leaders in the state’s upper houses do not exist.[2] Additionally, the Local Area Development Scheme for MPs and MLAs in which the member gets money for his/er area development most of the times comes under the purview of the municipality or Panchayat, which in most of the cases aren’t consulted. This in a sense creates an inferior status of the Corporation Councilor compared with an MP or an MLA.[3]



Table 5 : Representation of number of MLAs and MPs of Indian megacities
Metropolitan Region
MLA
MP
Population (2001)
Population (2011)
Electorate
Mumbai
60
10
1,93,67,011
2,07,48,395
1,68,10,491
Kolkata
48
6
1,46,69,705
1,41,12,300
1,30,33,646
Chennai
37
6
70,51,606
84,60,570
81,41,918
Bangaluru
34
5
84,18,638
1,11,24,227
74,58,528
Hyderabad
52
7
73,91,463
77,49,334
68,87,314
Source: Census of India 2001 & 2011, Chief Electoral Officers & Delimitation Commission Report
Constitution of the Area Sabha’s and the Ward Committee’s has not been achieved in major states. The Area Sabha idea does not apply to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore because either the law is yet to be passed or the rules are yet to be notified in the respective states. In both Hyderabad and Kolkata, the ward chairperson is the elected councilor of the ward and the Area Sabha Representative in Hyderabad is nominated/appointed by the municipality and in Kolkata it is the councilor. But the difference is that whereas Hyderabad has an organic linkage between Ward Committee and Area Sabha, Kolkata has a different structure where the councilor is both the Chairperson of the ward committee and the Area Sabha Committee.

Table 6: Status of Community Participation Law as mandated by JNNURM
State
Status as per ’10
Date of Enactment 
Whether rules have been notified
Andhra Pradesh
Achieved
25-Mar-08
10-Feb-10
Maharashtra
Achieved
03-Jul-09
The rules are yet to be notified
Tamil Nadu
Achieved
29-Oct-10
Not notified yet, rules are being formulated 
West Bengal
Achieved
1 Jun 2009
22-Sep-09




[1] In Chennai, after the 74th Constitution Amendment, a comprehensive local bodies Bill was discussed extensively in the Assembly and its Select Committee and duly enacted. Under its provisions, Chennai was to have a directly elected Mayor for a term of five years. Karunanidhi’s son M K Stalin successfully contested the elections and became Mayor twice in 1996 and again in 2001. But as Tamil Nadu moved from DMK to AIADMK, the state leadership thought it necessary to cut down a directly elected mayor of its capital city to size. The 1996 Act was replaced by the ancient 1919 Act under which a mayor was not entitled to reelection. Another law stipulated that Stalin had to choose between being the Mayor and a member of the Tamil Nadu Assembly. He chose the latter. About five years ago political fortunes overturned again and DMK returned to power. Stalin is now Tamil Nadu’s minister for local government. But even he has not found it necessary to go back to the system of directly elected mayor with power and accountability. The AIADMK government came to power recently and now the Mayor in Chennai is directly elected.
[2] The Ministry of Panchayati Raj circulated a note in 2009 asking state governments to comment on creating law allowing leaders from local bodies (urban & rural) to be nominated in the state’s upper house (Vidhan Parishad).
Also cited in Bicameralism: Issues and Prospects (Sivaramakrishnan’s paper presented at JNU)
[3] Mayors as ceremonial heads? (Business Standard)