The Samajwadi Party government has further curtailed the power of mayors by empowering the municipal commissioners to transfer municipal staff without taking the consent of the mayors. Earlier, the government had curtailed mayors’ powers when it came to sanctioning projects with funds allocated by the finance commission, city infrastructure development fund and Samagra Vikas Yojna.
Out of the 12 mayors in the state, 10 are from the BJP. Now, the BJP has accused the government of politicising the functioning of municipal corporations. They alleged that the SP government is turning out to be more draconian than the BSP regime in dealing with the urban local bodies by undermining the mayors and transferring their rights to bureaucrats and MLAs.
Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma said that mayors, who earlier chaired the standing committee of municipal corporations for selecting development projects to be financed with funds allocated by the finance commission and the city infrastructure development fund, have now been reduced as only members. “The government has made divisional commissioner heads of the committee now,” Sharma said.
Likewise, mayors also headed the committee formed for expenditure from Samagra Vikas Yojna. Under this scheme, the Chief Minister provides fund for development in municipal area. “Mayors were empowered to select projects in consultation with corporators. Now, the government has given that power to municipal commissioners who are sanctioning projects as per the demands of local MLAs, majority of whom are from the SP,” Sharma added.
Besides, the government has directed the the municipal commissioners to engrave the name of only local MLA on the inauguration plaques of projects.
“Mayors are in an embarrassing situation. We used to chair the meetings and divisional commissioner and municipal commissioner attended them as members. Now, how can we attend meetings which will be chaired by these officers?” said Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohle. “It’s an attempt to harm the image of mayors and to draw political mileage for the SP,” he added.
Sharma said attempts to curtail mayors’ powers started during the BSP government, which enhanced the power of municipal commissioners to sanction projects worth up to Rs 10 lakh. Earlier, they could sanction projects of value Rs 2 lakh only.