Srinagar All Set To Elect Its First Mayor
1 February 2005
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Huddled around a Bukhari, the employees at the Srinagar Municiapl Corporation (SMC) listen curiosly to an elderly man with a white flowing beard. Mohammad Sidiq Bhat a 53-year-old peon, is a witness to the proceedings of the Council that worked in the city, three decades ago. Traversing through his past, Bhat stops for a moment. 'A lot has changed, he says since Reshi sahib (Ghulam Rasool Reshi was the last president of SMC) left this office. It was a council then. Now it has been upgraded to a corporation,' says Bhat. Srinagar Municipal Coucil was upgraded to Corporation in 2003 by Municipal Act 2000. And for the first time, the city will elect its Mayor on February 1. Peeping through the window, Bhat points to the Jammu and Kashmir Bank in the office premises. There used to be the office of the president of the council, he says. 'It was only a single story building then', adds Bhat. Today the office complex is replaced by several multi-storeyed buildings. On the third floor, the workers are busy renovating the council premises with separate offices for mayor and deputy mayor, besides exclusive retiring rooms for the men and women councilors. There are 68 wards in the city that will go to the polls while government can nominate eight others, taking the number of councilors to 76. For the first time, 23 female councilors would also make it to the coucncil, after the govermnet decided to reserve 33 per cent for the women candidates. In 1977, there were just 33 members, recalls Bhat, adding that now there would be 68 including 23 women. There was no women councilor in the last council. Bhat, a resident of Barbarshah locality in downtown city has been a witness to all the political upheavels but had always remained an optimist. In old times, the councillors were educated and had a good rapport with the people. They worked for their betterment and the new councilors can also do the same, he opines.