There was a time when the citizens of Bombay used to be excited about getting a new mayor. Not it means nothing, it is like getting a new prime minister.
And Bombay has had its sahre of distinguished mayors. When I joined the profession, fellow reporters were still talking about S.K. Patil who had had an uniterrupted run of three years. By my time he was the BPCC president, still to become a central minister, much more than Murli Deora, more than even Rajni Patel.
The first mayor I met was M.S. Punpala. In my first or second month as a reporter, I remember going to Bhandup where the mayor was inaugurating a scooter plant. Afterwards he gave me and Freddy Simoes (a reporter from the Express and Frank Simoes's brother) a lift back to town in the mayor's car. I thoughts it was a great honour and felt then as Pritish Nandy must be feeling now when travelling in the prime minister's plane.
Poor Pupala did not finish his term, he had to resign over the Samyukta Maharastra issue. Sulochana Mody took over from him as the first woman mayor and for the next three months, I covered receptions given to her by all the Bhagini Samaj in town. I remember her, very prim, sari over her head. I am not quite sure, but I think Lilyben Pandiya also became a mayor. If so, that would make her the second woman mayor of Bombay.
But there were some outstanding male mayors. Prof. M.V. Dhonde was one of them Ė no municipal commissioner could take liberties with him. And Leon D'Souza, who went on, though some preverted irony, to become the prohibition minister of Maharastra. And, much later, B.K. Boman Behram, after having twice lost in the mayoral contest.
Public memory is short, but Murli Deora also became a mayor, and all these World Bank largesses than Bombay is enjoying today are because of him. Just for that. Bombay should forget Mandal, masjit and the rest and return him to parliament. The city owes a lot to both Deora and his able BRCC secretary, Moti Daryanani.
Who else? Comrade S.S. Mirajakar, he became the first communist mayor of Bombay. In those days, people used to become first in so many things. I will have to check who was the first Shiv Sena mayor: Wamanrao Mahadik or Sudhir Joshi? But Leon D'Souza's father was the first Goan mayor. And the first Parsi mayor of Bombay (president of the corporation) was Pherozeshah Mehta, but now we are going back to the era of the giant, and they have no relevance to yesterday's election of the giant, and thye have no relevance to yesterday's election of the new mayor.