WITH the delimitation of wards and lottery for reservation complete, the newly formed Swaraj India party said Tuesday it would contest 50-odd seats in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections to be held early next year. To “promote transparency”, the party plans to field candidates who will be selected by the public within each ward through a primaries-like open polling. Swaraj India was launched in New Delhi on October 2 and is led by former Aam Aadmi Party leaders (AAP) Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.
In the BMC elections, the party plans to contest from the wards in Worli, Sion, Wadala, Antop Hill in southern and central Mumbai and Goregaon, Malad and Dindoshi in the western suburbs. Apart from Mumbai, the party also plans to contest the civic elections in Thane and Pimpri-Chinchwad that will be held simultaneously next year. Taking up the theme of bringing unsung heroes of the city on the same platform, party spokesperson Shakil Ahmed said the formation of the party aimed to offer a political alternative to people. “The BMC has become a hub of corruption being led by the BJP and the Shiv Sena which are taking decisions for Mumbai keeping only their vested interests in mind. We aim to cleanse the city of such evils,” he said.
Ahmed, one of the founding members of the party, said though the party was yet to study the new ward boundaries and the reservations, he was planning to contest from Sion East or Wadala. Secretary Sanjeev Sane said the party had decided it would bring on four types of people as candidates who would be selected through an open polling conducted by the people of the ward concerned.
“We want to encourage professionals like doctors and advocates as well as entrepreneurs and activists, who have worked with the people in particular localities, to contest the elections. We will also encourage women who have selflessly worked in their localities,” the Secretary added.
Sane said while all interested candidates could apply, the party would conduct a background check on them and all details, including criminal records, would be presented to the people before the open polling was conducted. “We will not give a ticket to communal, corrupt people with criminal histories. For influential candidates, we will conduct a closed poll to ensure that the right candidate represents the ward. The aim is to support people who have worked hard in a particular area and give them a chance to take part in the elections,” he said. The party will start inviting applications in November.
Even though the party is yet to find candidates, the leaders are clear on not allowing corporators from other political parties to join. “After the delimitation and reservation lottery, a lot will change and there will be a lot of movement between the political parties. However, we will not include such corporators who are just looking for a ticket to contest. Our candidates will have to win the trust of the people in the ward before they can contest in the polls,” said Sane. Ahmed, however, said independent candidates might find a place in the party if they succeeded in the open polls. He added that according to the party’s constitution, all members would be below 40-45 years of age.