BMC Elections – Infighting hits citizen candidates movement

January 6, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Infighting to hit citizen candidates Movement Leaves 2012 Mumbai, January 04, 2012:  Infighting leaves 2012 Civic Poll Aspirants Confused. The movement to put up citizen candidates for the 2012 civic elections started with good intentions but almost two months later, infighting and factionalism has left aspiring candidates confused. One candidate could be pitted against another and the very purpose could be defeated. It started when Mumbai 227 was launched on October 10 by citizens such as Anandini Thakoor, Vidya Vaidya and Santosh Awatramani. The first candidate elected in 2007, Adolf D’Souza (Juhu), was the face of the campaign. However, within days, he floated his own platform, the Mumbai Nagriksatta, following differences.

While most groups feel votes will not be hit, they admit factionalism is defeating the purpose of the process. AGNI trustee Shyama Kulkarni said the innumerable groups defeat the purpose of fielding a candidate against a politician. “What is the difference between these groups and political parties, when they behave the same? How difficult is it for them to sit together and come up with one candidate? Eventually, ordinary citizens will lose,” she said.   D’Souza, admitting there was confusion in the minds of aspiring candidates, feels there was no alternative. “We had differences and clashes regarding basic aspects. We were not agreeing on major issues like transparency and process of selection. So I moved out and started a group with like-mined people,” he said. “The situation would have been better if we had stuck as a group,” he added.

Citizens fear the fragmentation will help political parties. “When the groups were launched, the idea was to overthrow the political system. Groups should make it clear these candidates will be independent and have different symbols. People may think each group has a symbol and may look out for that. If voters are confused, they will opt for the known, tested political alternative even if they may not be happy with the option,” said Indrani Malkani, trustee, V Citizens Action Network (VCAN).  What will happen when one candidate is pitted against another? Ward 182 in Mahim will have candidates from the Mumbai Nagrik Manch and Mumbai Nagriksatta. “There will be fragmentation of votes if citizen groups contest against each other. We had a mutual understanding that we would not field candidates against each other but it does not seem to be working,” said Hansel D’Souza of the manch. “Our primary goal is not to defeat political parties but to enhance the quality of governance. Such groups provide a platform for those who want to contest and change the system that runs on money and muscle power,” he added.

Thakoor, chairperson, HWest Ward Citizens’ Federation and a panelist of Mumbai 227, admitted that fighting against each other will benefit political parties, so “we are working towards a single platform”.

Four Groups and Their Faces
MUMBAI NAGRIKSATTA Key members: Adolf D’Souza (convenor), Raajesh Senha (coordinator) Candidates selected so far: 6
MUMBAI NAGRIK MANCH Key members: Hansel D’Souza (convenor) Candidates selected so far: 2 MUMBAI 227 Key members: Santosh Awatramani, Anandini Thakoor, Vidya Vaidya Candidates selected so far: Approx 180 applications. Selection process to begin
(Political party comprising active citizens) Key member: Surendra Srivastav Candidates selected so far: 5

– sukhada tatke & shawan sen

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