Maharashtra polls: Foot soldiers to make final push

  • Prajakta Chavan Rane, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 14, 2014 16:21 IST

With the five parties engaged in a close race, micro planning has assumed additional importance. All parties have intensified their efforts at the ground level to ensure maximum turnout and last-minute reach.

The BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP and the MNS have all increased their booth-wise worker strength as well as their building and area representatives.

Parties and their candidates have put in place structures for ground-level planning. With campaigning ending on Monday, foot soldiers will prove key in the next two days.

Parties have divided municipal wards into zones and created further sub-divisions for better mobilisation of voters. Polling agents are trained to closely monitor and object to bogus voting.

Around 300-500 party workers are appointed at various tiers in each civic ward depending on the strength of political party in that area. Each assembly constituency has six municipal wards. This means each candidate has at least 1,800-3,000 workers active at the ground level.

However, this varies as per party and candidates’ personal rapport with voters. With around 100-200 workers per ward the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has least number of active workers in Mumbai.

Shiv Sena has the highest strength at ground level with around 700-1000 workers in each civic ward, followed by BJP that has around 500-600 and Congress 250-300 workers, respectively.

In addition to this, each party has widened their base by inducting more office bearers at the various tiers of the party. “Earlier there was only Shaka Pramukh as head of the area, but now we have Yuva (Youth Pramukh) and Mahila Pramukh in the same tier,” said Neelam Gorhe, Shiv Sena spokesperson.

The Congress has divided the civic wards in four zones, with each zone comprising 8,000 voters. Each zone is further divided in four divisions with 2000 voters in each division and a group of 10 people is appointed to mobilise these 2,000 voters.

In upscale residential colonies or buildings, candidates have involved volunteers or college students who can communicate in fluent English to mobilse voters.

On the other hand, local Ganpati, Navratri and Govinda Mandals have been roped in to influence voters in chawls and slums. Similarly, in areas like Dharavi, Chandivali, Sion Koliwada, Anushakti Nagar and Chembur that comprise large number of slums, some candidates have even approached local slumlords to mobilise voters.

“We cannot campaign in the last days of the election but by monitoring and encouraging the voters, we help the Election Commission improve the voter turnout,” said Niranjan Shetty, BJP Mumbai spokesperson.

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