The Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) elections which will be held on December 18 this year, will see 49 doctors contesting with each other for a total of 9 slots in the regulatory body. Maharashtra state has over 85,000 registered doctors who are eligible to cast votes for electing members of the statutory body.
The medical council elections seem to be generating a high level of interest and awareness from doctors who are to be forming groups to contest elections on the lines of political parties. The campaigning strategies being employed are the social media platforms including facebook, twitter and whatsapp, manifestos and brochures requesting for votes in various workshops as well as conferences and making use of advertisements in local medical journals reports Indian Express.
Whereas the 2009 elections saw all 9 MMC members associated with the Indian Medical Association, this time other groups such as Parivartan, Pragati Panel and Maharashtra Medical Association have also made representations.
An informal meeting at Nair Hospital was held by Pragati Pane with hospital doctors on Tuesday, which has nominated 9 doctors from Mumbai, Nagpur, Nashik, Sangli, Latur, Aurangabad and Pune.
“In our manifesto, our priority is to protect doctors’ rights. Council’s role should be disciplinary, not amountable to harassment,” said Dr Sudhir Naik, gynaecologist, who is contesting MMC elections from Mumbai under Pragati Panel.
Stating that Mumbai doctors constitute 20 per cent of entire vote share, he added “People in other districts don’t know me. Forming an alliance helps spread the message wide.”
The IMA has been campaigning for two months now, distributing 80,000 brochures and over 1,000 banners across Maharashtra.
“We have nominated nine doctors from IMA. The main aim is to prevent cross-pathy in medicine. There is a lot of political interference in MMC and we have promised we will work against politicising allopathic council,” said Dr Jayesh Lele, president of IMA, Maharashtra.
Dr Niranjan Agarwal, a general surgeon in Mumbai, said he is starting discussions over WhatsApp medical groups, Facebook and Twitter to generate attention for votes. “I am also urging doctors to come out and vote. Since polling booths are very few, it gets difficult for voters to travel long distances,” Agarwal told IE.
In 2009, the voter turn out for MMC election was only 12 per cent. This time, the state has allotted 39 polling booths for doctors to cast their votes in each district. An estimate of 30 percent voter turn up is expected for the current elections. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors which has over 4,000 doctors had also written to the state government to allow them to vote from the city where they are presently posted so that they do not have to travel to their registered addresses to vote.
“We have allowed residents to change their address online and present a dean’s letter to confirm their services. This kind of interest is seen for the first time,” said Dr Abhay Chowdhary, interim administrator of MMC.
The MMC, which is a state autonomous body regulating the ethical practices of doctors and dealing with issues of registration and cancellation of medical licences had 36 nominations in 2009, when the last elections were held. A total of 18 members constitute the MMC, out of which 9 are elected by doctors, 4 are ex-officio members and 5 are nominated by the state government.