In the last municipal elections, many Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) had tried to provide an alternative to political parties by propping their own candidates but had failed miserably. This time, political parties are wooing the same candidates to join their fold.
In 2007, when the last elections for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) were held, the RWAs were a force to reckon with. Flush with their success on implementation of Conditional Access System (CAS) for cable television and opposing high power tariff, the ‘RWA movement’ seemed to have become the voice of the people.
Disenchantment with the political set-up had led many RWAs to back their own candidates. These candidates fought as independents but were supported mainly by two forums — the United Residents Joint Action and Jan Pratinidhi Manch. The candidates fought valiantly but had a dismal showing, with most garnering a few hundred votes or even less.
“I have been approached by some political parties and some smaller political organisations who want to give me a ticket for this MCD election,” said Pankaj Agarwal of the Delhi RWAs Joint Front. The Joint Front is a forum of RWAs across the Capital and Agarwal is one of the most prominent faces of the ‘movement’.
Agarwal said that unless RWA-backed candidates come under a single umbrella and a common manifesto, it is unlikely that people will vote for them. “This is the reason why none of them could get a seat last time,” he said.
“I have yet not decided if I would join any party or contest elections. I have called a meeting of the Front members and we would plan if RWA candidates should contest this time too,” Agarwal added.
Offers are also pouring in for DM Narang, general secretary of the R Block, New Rajinder Nagar RWA, who is another well known face. “You need the support of a party if you want to win an election and make a difference,” he said.
Narang, who along with other RWAs of the area had fielded candidates last time, is not interested in doing it again. “I can do more for my area by remaining part of the RWA,” he said.
Two women RWA members and prominent contestants last time, Geeta Bhargava (Defence Colony) and Ranju Minhas (Masjid Moth), said one bad experience was enough.
“I have been approached by political parties but I’m not contesting this time,” Minhas said. “Last time, we thought we were the people’s voice but couldn’t win. However, we did make political parties sit up and take notice,” she added.