Ever since it was formed in 2006,Raj Thackerays Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has professed a strong commitment to improving the living conditions of people in Mumbai and blamed its creaking infrastructure and public services on migrants from north India who crowd the city.
The partys seven corporators,however,have not been able to walk the talk when it comes to making their presence felt at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporations general body meetings and pushing their causes.
The Indian Express has found that the seven first-time MNS corporators elected in 2007 have the lowest average attendance among major parties at the BMCs general body meetings during the first four years of their five-year term for which data is available.
This,even as the MNS hopes to drastically improve its tally in elections due next month and become a deciding factor in who gets to run the countrys richest civic body. Elections to the BMCs 227 seats are set for February 16. MNS corporators have attended,on an average,only 159 of the total 272 sessions held during the four-year period,the data shows.
Although the MNS managed to get seven of its candidates elected to the BMC within a year of its formation,one of the seven,Shirish Chaughule,was disqualified in the first year of his term for allegedly faking his caste certificate used for the polls. However,even if his absence is accounted for,the average attendance of the remaining six is still the lowest among major parties at 165 meetings.
The BMC spends close to Rs 50,000 to organise each general body meeting and four to five meetings are held every month. All policy decisions cleared by various committees are put up for discussion and approval at the meetings. Corporators receive a honorarium of Rs 10,000 per month and a Rs 150 allowance per meeting.
Shiv Sena corporator and MLA Ravindra Waikar said it is important for opposition corporators to attend general body meetings. If these parties claim they feel strongly about civic issues they should attend the meetings to raise questions concerning their ward and convince the ruling parties to agree with them, said Waikar.
The other prominent opposition parties do not have a good attendance record either (see box).
The Samajwadi Party,which also has seven corporators,and has been in a running battle with the MNS as the latter sees it as a party representing north Indian migrants,has a better record than the MNS.
Asked for the reason for the low attendance,MNS leader in the BMC and MLA Mangesh Sangle said MNS corporators believe more in working in their wards rather than marking their attendance at meetings.
We also have a lower average because one of our corporators got disqualified. I also do not get enough time since I have become an MLA and have responsibilities in my constituency.