Mumbai housing body elections today, marred by rigging allegations

Efficiency, transparency strong pitches from most candidates

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | June 15, 2013



The housing cooperatives union election in Mumbai, scheduled on June 15, has become mired in controversy.

There are allegations that the poll has been rigged with only 2,000 of 18,000 housing societies registered with the Mumbai district cooperative societies’ federation (MDCSF) having got voting rights while the others have been barred on flimsy grounds. The voters’ list has been narrowed, down, some allege, to ensure the election of specific candidates. Forty candidates are in the fray in the poll for a directorial board of fifteen.

Another area of concern is that although there are 25,000 housing societies in the city only 18,000 have registered with MDCSF even though it is mandatory. Federation chairman Anil Jadhav’s representative told Governance Now that most unregistered societies have not even responded to letters from MDCSF asking them to join.

Interestingly, Sahayak, an NGO, is fielding eight candidates in the polls, who are common residents of housing societies. Sahayak candidates have announced a common agenda, featuring the establishment of sub-offices at district zones for counseling federation officers on governance of housing societies, setting up of a legal cell with lawyers and experts for representations of residents on cooperative courts. Transparency and accountability also seem to be a big poll promise for this set. They have pledged to have a dedicated website and email support for each society to engage with residents’ concerns. They have said that they will push for special cell that will constitute a panel of jury for weekly lok adalats.

“Besides its monthly magazine and some forms, the current board has failed to provide any support to aggrieved societies and their members. While the provision for arbitration and adjudication of aggrieved member is available with the federation, it has, so far, failed to provide these services. It does not have a website nor email facility. A cartel of members have been ruling the federation for the last 35 years, putting barriers for individual entrants,” said advocate Hemant Aggarwal, a candidate belonging to Maha CHS RTI Union, a collective of cooperative housing society  residents who intend to use the information law to bring better governance to the urban spaces housing lakhs of people. Recently-formed, the forum is providing free guidance to aggrieved housing society residents.

 

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