Direct political representation at the local level is a necessity in any democracy. In India, where the word municipal evokes lack of power, this is all the more crucial. But every now and then efforts are made to curb local governance, as the Uttar Pradesh Urban Local Self Government Bill shows.
The Bill, passed recently, proposes indirect elections to urban local bodies. Middlemen elect mayors and chairmen, who no longer remain answerable to the general electorate. This loss of direct accountability, so crucial at the municipal level, can spell further degeneration for UP’s decrepit cities. It is also anomalous at a time when the focus should be on empowering the person at the end of the line.
The Bill may well allow the BSP to shore up its urban base before local bodies go to polls later this year. Already, rules implemented last year prevent civic polls from being contested along party lines. In the bargain, UP’s cities may fall into a deeper governance mire.