WITH the Mumbai civic elections due early next year, it’s not only the political parties that have started preparations. People across the city too have formed groups gearing up for the polls.
Last week, a meeting was held in Andheri (West) to discuss strategies for the upcoming civic elections. “We had an informal discussion with various independent groups to discuss the strategy for elections. The people are disappointed with the current dispensation in the BMC and the way they are functioning,” said Hansel D’Souza of Mumbai Nagrik Manch.
Hansel added that they discussed several civic issues such as dumping grounds, 24-hour water supply, and roads. “The civic body has failed miserably in providing these services. But this is one of the initial meetings. So, we haven’t yet decided about fielding candidates,” said Hansel.
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City-based NGO Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) has also started discussions among stakeholders such as voluntary groups, housing societies, clubs, associations, and civic activists to bring them on one platform.
“We must come together with active involvement and participate in the plan to ensure that parties put up meritorious candidates. The electorate has to be mobilised in making the right choices so that the civic body will have corporators by people’s choice,” said Willie Shirsat, coordinator of AGNI.
Shirsat further said AGNI will not put up candidates but will promote candidates based on background and credentials.
Mumbai Nagrik Lok Manch, a new group, has decided to put up candidates in almost all wards. It has decided to bring active people from all wards on a platform to provide an alternative to existing political parties.
Santosh Awatramani of Mumbai 227 said it hasn’t yet decided on contesting civic elections. “In 2012, we made a very good system but could not do much due to lack of funds. After the elections, many people in Mumbai 227 have become inactive. Though we get calls asking about preparations for civic elections, we haven’t yet decided,” said Awatramani.
In the 2012 civic elections, more than 70 candidates were fielded by citizen groups but not a single candidate won. While Mumbai 227 had fielded around 66 candidates, Mumbai Nagrik Manch had put up around five candidates and a few others had fought elections with the support of different groups.