Mumbai papers go aggro on civic issues

11 Jan,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The municipal elections due in Mumbai next month are being treated almost like assembly elections. For weeks now, Mumbai newspapers have been giving readers details of the projects undertaken, completed, unfinished, citizens’ grouses, movements and expectations. apart from a ward by ward breakdown of performance by the incumbent Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance, details about new political formations and many citizens’ groups have also been provided, analysed and assessed.


There can be no doubt that this election to the biggest and richest municipal corporation in the country is been seen as a litmus test for the state and general elections. The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, after some hissing and spitting, have decided on their seat-sharing and are apparently well-prepared to take on the incumbents.


Is there anything to choose between the papers? as is its wont and reach, The Times of India has gone for a carpet-bombing strategy. The Hindustan Times has gone for the focused approach, concentrating on particular issues. Mid-Day has also looked issues as well as the political twists and turns. Saamna, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, has looked to attack Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which has certainly eaten into its own constituency.


This is the sort of coverage that Mumbai newspapers are very good at and indeed have taught a lesson or two to other city editions about how to go in-depth into local issues.


Interestingly, the anti-corruption movement led by anna Hazare has not jumped into the fray. Yet, most problems which people have with government non-performance and bribery are at the local and municipal levels. Your Member of Parliament cannot get you constant water supply or smooth roads or garbage disposal.




The last six or eight months saw the media looking at internal issues, most specifically the anti-corruption movement and its fallout. But with the suspension of the Lokpal Bill, geopolitics and the neighbourhood have both resurfaced. India’s military capabilities and strategy vis-a-vis China are back on the edit pages and the turmoil in Pakistan is also getting attention. TV channels, predisposed to sensationalism, have concentrated more on former military dictator Pervez Musharraf’s decision to return to Pakistan. The run-up to the US presidential election, however, is yet to find much space in the Indian media.




another Test series is due to begin and it will be a good test to see how much hysteria can be generated from a good or bad performance by India.


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